Japan, China need "rules of game" to avoid clash: Abe adviser

Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:59am EST
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By Linda Sieg

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and China need "rules of the game" to keep a feud over tiny islands from escalating into a military clash, an adviser to Japan's prime minister said on Friday, as a ruling coalition partner prepared to visit Beijing in search of better ties.

Sino-Japanese ties chilled sharply after Japan bought the disputed islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese citizen last September.

China scrambled two J-10 fighters last week in the area after two Japanese F-15s followed a Chinese military aircraft, which China said was on a "routine patrol".

Japan has sent up fighter jets several times recently to intercept Chinese planes near the islands, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China.

Both sides have also sent patrol vessels to the area.

"We need some rules of the game. We have to discuss preventative measures," Shotaro Yachi, a former senior diplomat now advising Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on foreign policy told Reuters in an interview.

Yachi said he was very concerned about a possible unintended clash.

"During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union had such 'rules of the game' to avoid a possible conflict. We can learn a lesson from their experience," he said.   Continued...