The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that China's sole operating aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, had passed through the Miyako Strait between the island of Miyako and Okinawa's main island as it ventured into the Pacific that morning.

The Liaoning, which did not enter Japanese waters while traversing the 150-nautical-mile-wide strait, was accompanied by an apparent carrier task force group made up of five other vessels, including two guided-missile destroyers and two frigates, the ministry said in a statement.

It also said a combat support ship had joined the task force, the first time such a vessel had been sighted making the voyage.