7 Russian Navy ships spotted in Pacific off Chiba Prefecture

Japan's Defense Ministry says seven Russian Navy vessels were spotted in the Pacific Ocean off Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo.

Ministry officials say Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels confirmed on Thursday that the Russian ships, including destroyers and frigates, were sailing southwest in the Pacific about 180 kilometers southeast of Cape Inubo.

The officials say the ships had been traveling south about 280 kilometers southeast of Cape Erimo in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido on the previous day. They also say five of them were spotted off Hokkaido last Thursday. The ships' activities were believed to have been part of a massive naval exercise by Russia.

Japan's Defense Ministry also confirmed that two Chinese Navy ships, including an intelligence-gathering vessel, were navigating east through the Tsugaru Strait to the Pacific Ocean on Thursday. The waters are between Japan's main island of Honshu and Hokkaido.

Ministry officials say the two Chinese ships had been confirmed to have passed through the Tsushima Strait off the western prefecture of Nagasaki to reach the Sea of Japan this month.

The ministry is gathering information and monitoring the navigation of Russian and Chinese military vessels.