China escalated tensions with Japan after a surveillence plane entered Japanese-claimed airspace near disputed islands in the East China Sea, The New York Times reported. The Japanese Defense Ministry said fighter jets were scrambled in response, but the Chinese plane had left the area before they arrived. The ministry said it was the first time since records began fifty years ago that China had infringed Japanese airspace. China also lays claim to the airspace, however, and responded to a formal Japanese protest saying that it was in fact the Japanese who had overstepped boundaries. “China requires the Japanese side to stop illegal activity in the waters and airspace of the Diaoyu Islands,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. The incident embarrassed the current Japanese government, after a Japanese Coast Guard ship spotted the plane which radar systems failed to detect it.