Japan warns against 'extreme nationalism' in row with China

TOKYO, September 21, 2010 (AFP) - Japan's top government spokesman warned Tuesday that all sides must avoid arousing "narrow-minded, extreme nationalism" in a row with China over Japan's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain.

Tokyo and Beijing are embroiled in their worst dispute in years over the arrest, which followed a tense maritime incident almost two weeks ago near a disputed East China Sea island chain that is also claimed by Taiwan.

"What is more important than anything is that government officials in charge should be careful not to arouse narrow-minded, extreme nationalism in Japan, China and other countries," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said.

Striking a conciliatory tone, Sengoku stressed the importance of good ties between China and Japan, Asia's two biggest economies, saying their relationship is indispensable for regional growth.

"We want to use all possible channels not to escalate the issue and to solve it for the sake of development in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region," the chief cabinet secretary told a regular news conference.

Beijing on Sunday threatened Tokyo with "strong counter-measures" after a Japanese court extended by 10 days the detention of the boat captain.