“Five of the nine ballistic missiles launched by China are believed to have landed within Japan’s EEZ,” Mr Nobuo Kishi told reporters, as China holds massive military drills in the waters around Taiwan.
Four of the five missiles are “believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island”, Japan's defence ministry. They were apparently launched from the Fujian province, the Zhejiang coast and inland China.
"The Ministry of Defence and the Self-Defence Forces will continue to make every effort to collect and analyse information and conduct warning and surveillance," the ministry said.
Japan had “lodged a protest with China through diplomatic channels”, Mr Kishi said, calling the matter “a serious problem that affects our national security and the safety of our citizens”.
The figure of nine missiles fired was an assessment by the Japanese side, Mr Kishi said, adding that the five appeared to have landed south-west of Okinawa’s Hateruma island.
China is holding its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, which it considers its territory and has vowed to one day reunify, by force if necessary.
The show of force was sparked by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island, despite stern warnings from Beijing.
The drills involved a “conventional missile firepower assault” in waters to the east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.
All nine missiles were believed to have fallen within areas designated by China for the military exercises, Mr Kishi said.
The minister declined to comment on China’s intentions regarding the drills, but nonetheless called them “extremely menacing”.
The military exercises came just hours after China said a planned meeting between its Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi on the sidelines of an Asean meeting in Cambodia had been cancelled.
The cancellation was due to China’s displeasure with a Group of Seven (G-7) joint statement urging Beijing to resolve Taiwan tensions peacefully.
China scolded foreign ministers of the G-7 nations for telling Beijing not to use Mrs Pelosi's visit to Taiwan as “pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait”.
A G-7 foreign ministers joint statement warned that China’s escalatory response risked increasing tensions and destabilising the region and said it was routine for legislators from their countries to travel internationally.
Mr Wang rejected their statement, and chided them for ignoring the provocation that had come from the US side.
It groundlessly criticises China for taking such measures, which are reasonable and legitimate steps to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mr Wang said in a statement issued by his ministry.
“From where have they received such a prerogative? Who has given them such qualification to? To shield the infringer of rights and to accuse their defenders – how inexplicable!”
The G-7 statement had aroused “great indignation” among the Chinese people, he said.
“Today’s China is no longer the China of the 19th century. History should not repeat itself, and it will never repeat itself!”
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing that if other G-7 nations follow in the footsteps of the United States over the Taiwan issue, then that means they themselves have no independence in their diplomacy and policies.
“(They) should adhere to the consensus reached by China on the 'one-China' policy, as this is the most important political premise and basis for China’s relations with them,” Ms Hua said.