Tokyo: Japan said on Tuesday it and China should avoid fuelling nationalism over a sea dispute and called for the row to be resolved without affecting business between Asia`s two biggest economies.
China has suspended high-level exchanges with Japan and promised tough countermeasures after a Japanese court extended the detention of a Chinese captain whose trawler collided with two Japanese coastguard ships this month.
The dispute has flared since Japan arrested the captain, accusing him of deliberately striking a patrol ship and obstructing officers near uninhabited islets in the East China Sea which they both claim.
China calls the islets Diaoyu and Japan calls them Senkaku.
"What is most important is that government officials in Japan, China and other countries try not to fuel narrow-minded, extreme nationalism," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference.
"For the peace and development of East Asia and the Asia-Pacific, we want to use all available means of communication to ask that this be resolved without the situation escalating."
Emotions have run high over the issue in China, where memories of Japan`s World War Two occupation stoke public ire. About 100 protesters in several Chinese cities on Saturday demanded Japan free the captain.
Japan has said the captain`s case would be dealt with appropriately according to its laws. Prosecutors have until September 29 to decide whether to take legal action.
Sino-Japanese ties have long been plagued by feuds over wartime history and rivalry over territory, resources and military intentions, although they had improved after a chill in 2001-2006 as their economies become more intertwined.
China has been Japan`s biggest trading partner since 2009 and bilateral trade reached 12.6 trillion yen ($147 billion) in the January-June period, a jump of 34.5 percent over the same time last year, according to Japanese statistics.
Japan`s finance minister called for calm, reiterating the government line that the matter be dealt with according to law.
"We should respond cool-headedly so as to prevent it from affecting (our economic activity)," Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told a separate news conference.