Three Chinese Navy warships sailed through the Osumi Strait off Kagoshima Prefecture and into the Pacific, the Defense Ministry said Monday.
The warships--two frigates and an intelligence-gathering ship--were spotted at around noon Sunday by a Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane about 430 kilometers west of Yakushima island, Kagoshima Prefecture, according to the ministry.
The three vessels traveled eastward through the Osumi Strait located between Cape Sata and Tanegashima island--both in Kagoshima Prefecture--before sailing into the Pacific at about 11 a.m. Monday, the ministry said.
It is unusual for Chinese warships to sail through the strait, though they are allowed to do so based on international laws, the ministry said, before adding the MSDF would continue monitoring the area.
It was the first time in nine years that Chinese warships were confirmed to have passed through the Osumi Strait, according to the ministry.