TOKYO: Japan, China and South Korea briefly put aside territorial and historical disputes Sunday for rare trilateral talks announcing a bid to boost tourism numbers in the three countries to 30 million visitors in five years.
Japanese tourism minister Akihiro Ota met with counterparts Li Jinzao of the China National Tourism Administration and Kim Jong-Deok of South Korea in Tokyo, Jiji Press and Kyodo News said.
The meeting—the first by tourism ministers of the three countries in four years, according to Jiji — came ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea and Japan’s 2020 Summer Olympics.
The three ministers agreed to set a goal of raising the number of visitors between them to 30 million in 2020 from some 20 million in 2014, the news reports said.
The ministers also sought to work together for launching a “Visit East Asia” campaign to attract tourists from other countries during events such as the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, they said.
The three separately called for measures to prevent problems arising from different daily habits and to ensure the safety of tourists, Kyodo said.
In Beijing, Chinese state media on Saturday announced it will create a “blacklist” of its tourists who behave badly overseas after a series of embarrassing incidents involving Chinese travelling abroad.
The initiative comes amid simmering territorial rows between the three neighbours.
The dispute between Seoul and Tokyo over a tiny set of South Korean-controlled islets has rumbled on for decades, in tandem with highly-emotive disputes related to Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
Beijing and Tokyo have similar issues, and the disputes are being highlighted as the region prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The foreign ministers of South Korea, China and Japan held talks in Seoul last month and pledged to work towards a trilateral leadership summit at “the earliest” opportunity, but observers say such a meet is unlikely in the short term.