A Chinese navy frigate did lock its weapons radar on a Japan Coastguard vessel near the disputed Senkaku Islands, senior Chinese military officials have admitted.

The officials, including flag officers, admitted the incident for the first time but said the move was an “emergency decision” taken by the commander of the frigate, reports Kyodo News.

The Chinese frigate and the the Japanese destroyer were 3 kilometers (2 miles) apart in international waters when the commander directed his vessel’s weapons-targeting radar, based on the Chinese military’s rules of engagement and without seeking instructions from the fleet command or navy headquarters, the Chinese officials told Kyodo.

Beijing has consistently denied the allegations and described Tokyo’s reports on the January 30 incident as a “fabrication” to magnify the “China threat”, AFP reports.

It was not known if the commander had been reprimanded, Kyodo reported.

Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, criticized the admission as “mind games” played by China.

“If this is true, one has to question a military system that leaves such authority in commanders’ hands, even when they are not in a dire situation,” Kawano said.