China Flattop Seen Heading Back Home from Waters near Japan
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Tokyo, May 22 (Jiji Press)--A fleet of Chinese navy ships including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, which had been operating in Pacific waters south of the southernmost Japan prefecture of Okinawa since early May, headed north and entered the East China Sea, the Japanese Defense Ministry said Sunday.
The fleet is believed to be heading back to China after completing a series of exercises.
The number of aircraft takeoffs from and landings on the Liaoning confirmed by Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force and others exceeded 300 during the period in which the flattop operated near Japan this month. As the number hit a record high and the Liaoning operated in waters closer to the Nansei southwestern islands in Japan and Taiwan compared with its past operations, the Japanese Defense Ministry is carefully monitoring the situation, seeing that China may be working to enhance its capabilities to operate aircraft carriers in distant seas.
The Liaoning-based aircraft flew near Japan's air defense identification zone. They also took off from and landed on the flattop multiple times even at nighttime.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]