Japan’s defense chief said Tuesday that fighter jets and helicopters aboard China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier had conducted more than 100 landings and takeoffs while in waters near the Nansei Islands and Taiwan from earlier this month through Sunday, as the Chinese Navy seeks to improve its capabilities in more distant areas.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the operations had taken place in waters between 160 kilometers southwest of Okinawa Prefecture’s Okidaito Island and 150 km south of its Ishigaki Island — the closest ever to Japan to date.

“The recent activities by the Chinese military may be an attempt to improve their ability to operate aircraft carriers and conduct operations in more distant waters and airspace,” Kishi told a news conference. “Given that these activities are in the sea and airspace near Japan's Nansei Islands and Taiwan, we must watch these activities with concern.”