The Maritime Self-Defense Force on Sunday morning spotted China's only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, cruising into the Western Pacific Ocean for the first time via the waterway between Okinawa and Miyakojima Island, the Defense Ministry said.

The Liaoning, accompanied by three guided missile destroyers and two frigates, was spotted about 110 km northeast of Miyakojima in Okinawa Prefecture heading southeast at around 10 a.m., the ministry said.

This is the first time the Liaoning has been confirmed as entering the Pacific Ocean, ministry officials said.