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Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012

Japan tourism chief tours China, holds out hope for improved relations

Jiji

HONG KONG — Japan National Tourism Organization President Ryoichi Matsuyama said Tuesday that his group hopes to explore the best timing for talks with Chinese tourism officials amid the heightened tensions over a territorial row between the two nations.

"It will take time to resolve the territorial issue, so the Japanese tourism industry must endure," Matsuyama told reporters in Hong Kong.

The two countries have been at odds over the ownership of a group of East China Sea islets, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, with the row taking a toll on the Japanese tourism industry.

While expressing his willingness to talk with China's tourism authorities to strengthen bilateral ties over the medium and long term, Matsuyama noted that he could not say now when such talks would take place.

Matsuyama, however, hinted at the possibility of improving Sino-Japanese relations, citing a case in 2006 when a visit to China by then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe helped improve the bilateral relationship. Relations had deteriorated because of repeated visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine by his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. China regards the shrine as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Matsuyama is on a tour of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, for talks with local tourism industry officials.



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