He added that the planes didn't "trespass" into Japan's territorial airspace, although he said it was the first time that Chinese military aircraft had been seen in the Miyako Strait.
"We will continue to keep close eyes on the Chinese military activities which have been expanding and become more frequent," he said.
The fleet, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and air tankers, simulated reconnaissance and early warning attacks on sea-surface targets. It also conducted in-flight refueling to test the Air Force's fighting capacity, Xinhua added.
The report added that the fleet conducted routine patrols in China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which the country set up in the East China Sea in 2013
despite objections from Tokyo and Washington.
Japan rejects the ADIZ, which encompasses disputed islands that are known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
Japan also has an ADIZ over the islands, which it administers.
Shen said the drills and patrols were conducted "in accordance with the needs of the Air Force to defend national sovereignty and security, as well as to maintain peaceful development."
Both China and Japan claim ownership of the islands and tensions have flared numerous times in recent years.
While they are uninhabited, their ownership would allow for exclusive oil, mineral and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.
In mid-2014, Japanese and Chinese jets had a tense standoff
in a region where both zones overlap, with Japan's Defense Minister saying the planes at one point came within 30 feet of each other.
Tension over the island dispute has in the past spilled over into protests and violence against Japanese-owned businesses
The Senkaku/Diaoyu islands are by no means the only islands whose ownership China disputes.
Beijing claims the majority of the South China Sea
as part of its territory, which has led to heightened tensions and frequent disputes with its neighbors there.