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Soviets Express Regret for Plane's Intrusion Into Japanese Airspace

December 11, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — The Soviet Union, in an unusually prompt action, expressed regrets Thursday for the violation of Japan's airspace by one of its air force bombers the day before.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri A. Gremitsky said the intrusion was caused by navigational problems during bad weather.

He said that the Soviet Union will "take precautions to prevent such incidents in the future."

The violation of Japanese airspace by a Soviet TU-16 Badger bomber occurred Wednesday morning over the southern island of Okinawa. The Japanese Defense Agency in Tokyo said the Badger broke off from a four-plane flight that was heading north over the East China Sea.

Fired Warning Shots

Japanese fighters were scrambled in response and, when their signals to the intruder were ignored, fired warning shots.

It was the first time since World War II that Japanese air force planes had fired their guns to drive off a Soviet intruder, the Japanese said.

Gremitsky said the regrets will be conveyed to Tokyo through diplomatic channels.

Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu chain between Japan and Taiwan, was captured by U.S. forces in 1945 but reverted to Japanese sovereignty in 1972.

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