Q&A Malik & Beattie / US Japan China / A U.S. defense official has confirmed that Japanese and American military officers will discuss plans to counter any Chinese military action to seize disputed islands in the East China Sea. Japanese media reports of the planning prompted a Chinese defense ministry vow of a "steadfast" defense of its territorial integrity. The Pentagon-based official told VOA Wednesday that Japan's General Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of staff of the Japanese Self Defense Forces Joint Staff, will meet this week with the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, to discuss a plan to retake the islands, should China invade. Lieutenant Colonel Cathy Wilkinson said the two are meeting for "regular alliance consultations." She added that the Defense Department does not discuss its military planning efforts and encourages China and Japan to resolve the dispute over the islands "through peaceful means." China and Japan have a long-running dispute over the tiny, uninhabited islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Both countries claim the islands, which Japan controls. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and possibly by energy deposits. Mohan Malik is a professor of Asian security at the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. He tells VOA's Victor Beattie this is not the first such meeting of its kind and says military exercises were abandoned last year under pressure from China when news of the plan was leaked to the media.