NEW YORK – Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Friday for calm discussions between China and Japan in the wake of a tense territorial spat between the Asian rivals.

Kan, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a United Nations global summit, also defended his government’s past currency intervention, although he said he hadn’t heard anything about a fresh intervention following a sudden jump in the dollar against the yen Friday. Traders initially said that movement was due to the Bank of Japan intervening to weaken the Japanese currency.

On the dispute with China, Kan didn’t directly address how ties would be affected by a heated diplomatic clash over Japan’s arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain near islands both Japan and China claim as their own. Both countries, Kan said, have crucial international responsibilities.

Facing intense Chinese pressure, Japan released the captain.

Kan met with President Obama during the U.N. meetings. China’s premier, however, wouldn’t meet with the Japanese leader, and Beijing also suspended ministerial-level dialogue with Tokyo.

Kan, in his comments to the press, had little to say about his country’s currency moves.

Last week, Japan intervened in currency markets for the first time in six years. Kan said Friday that Japan’s past currency intervention was meant to restrain excessive exchange rate fluctuation.

At the time of the Sept. 15 intervention, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda openly discussed at a news conference the government’s resolve to fight the strong yen.