The Defense Ministry in Tokyo confirmed Saturday that for the first time China has conducted a drill in the Pacific with its sole operating aircraft carrier.

The ministry said it had detected several apparent fighter jets being launched from the Liaoning, which was sailing eastward with six other Chinese Navy vessels some 350 km (over 200 miles) south of Japan's westernmost island of Yonaguni, in Okinawa Prefecture, on Friday morning.

On Saturday, the carrier and its escorts passed through the Miyako Strait between the islands of Miyako and Okinawa, venturing northwest toward the East China Sea.