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Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera attends a news conference at Defence Ministry in Tokyo, Japan August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(reuters_tickers)

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's defence minister said Tokyo had expressed its concern to Beijing after a flight of Chinese bombers flew close to its territory on Thursday.

"It was the first time we have recorded Chinese military aircraft flying this route," Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said during a regular press briefing on Friday. "We expressed our concern through diplomatic channels," he added.

Six bombers flying from the East China Sea passed close to Japanese territory on route to the Pacific Ocean. They did not enter Japanese airspace but it was the first time the Chinese bombers had flown the route.

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Reuters