MOSCOW -  The Japanese and US military officials conducted a theoretic simulation of an operation on thwarting China’s potential “invasion” of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the Japanese Defense Ministry building in January, media reported Sunday.

According to the Kyodo news agency, the plot of the theoretical drills featured the Japanese army “defending” the Senkaku Islands from the Chinese military that have presumably disembarked there from vessels disguised as fishing boats.

The US Navy officials participated in the simulation, the media added, stressing that it was the first ever simulation devoted to the “Senkaku defense.” Tokyo and Beijing have long been involved in a territorial dispute over the disputed Senkaku Islands, referred to by China as the Diaoyu Islands, which are located next to important shipping routes, and potentially large oil and gas fields. Japan claims it has possessed the islands since 1895, while Beijing recalls that Japanese maps made in 1783 and 1785 pictured the islands as belonging to China.

After World War II, the islands were controlled by the United States until Washington returned them to Japan in 1972. Taiwan and mainland China still believe that Tokyo maintains control over the islands illegally.