Chinese military aircraft conducted a drill in international waters of the East China Sea in late May that simulated the targeting of Self-Defense Force destroyers, according to Japanese government sources Sunday, in what the government considered "an extremely dangerous military action."

Officials said the drill, which had not previously been revealed, could have led to unexpected circumstances. But the government did not protest to the Chinese government and has not made the incident public in order to keep Japan's intelligence-gathering and analysis capabilities secret.

According to the sources, multiple Chinese JH-7 fighter-bombers approached two Maritime Self-Defense Force escort vessels sailing near a contentious gas field on the Chinese side of the so-called median line between the exclusive economic zones of Japan and China, moving close enough to put the vessels within striking distance of anti-ship missiles.