Three Chinese naval vessels, including a large guided-missile destroyer, have been spotted in the Strait of Tsushima, north of Japan's Kyushu main island, sailing into the Sea of Japan, the Defense Ministry said.
The Renhai-class vessel is among China's largest naval destroyers and the Maritime Self-Defense Force confirmed the ship in waters near Japan for the first time, the ministry's Joint Staff said Friday.
The three vessels did not enter Japan's territorial waters nor take action to pose any threat to MSDF ships or planes, it added.
The development came after Japan and the United States expressed concern over a controversial Chinese law when the two countries held security ministerial talks on Tuesday in Tokyo.
The Chinese law that recently took effect enables its coast guard ships to fire on vessels around the Japanese-controlled, Beijing-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
The Defense Ministry is analyzing China's intentions in sending the naval ships near Japan at this time.
According to the Joint Staff, two MSDF ships and a P-3C reconnaissance aircraft spotted the three Chinese naval vessels in the sea about 250 kilometers southwest of Tsushima at around 11 a.m. on Thursday.
The three vessels sailed through the Strait of Tsushima and entered the Sea of Japan.
China deployed its first Renhai-class missile destroyer in January 2020. Equipped with vertical-launch missiles, the destroyer is believed to be capable of launching long-range cruise missiles as well as supersonic antiship missiles.