Two bills could go before Japan's parliament next month that offer legal protection to offshore oil and gas rigs, the Financial Times reported. The proposed items of legislation, which have bipartisan support, are likely to raise the stakes in Japan's long-running dispute with China over gas fields in the East China Sea. A joint exploration of the gas fields has been proposed but China has already started developing in one area that is claimed by both sides. It is thought that the proposed laws would encourage Japanese companies to do the same. There is no chance of the bills being passed into law before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Japan in mid-April.