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S. Korean, Japanese big biz groups call for tourism promotion

2014/08/29 10:07

SEOUL, Aug. 29 (Yonhap) -- Business organizations representing the largest companies in South Korea and Japan on Friday called for the revitalization of the tourism trade that has been hit hard by historical and territorial disputes between the two nations.

In a tourism cooperation meeting held in Seoul, officials from the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and Nippon Keidanren agreed that promoting tourism would lay the foundation for improving public perceptions between the sides and help normalize relations.

South Korea-Japan relations have deteriorated amid moves by Tokyo to downplay atrocities it committed during its colonization of the Korean Peninsula. Tokyo's territorial claim to Seoul's easternmost islets of Dokdo has also hurt diplomatic and political ties, fueling negative public opinion between Koreans and Japanese.

Park Sam-koo, the head of Kumho Asiana Group and head of the FKI's tourism committee, said tourism "can help overcome past differences and help fuel domestic spending in both countries."

   He urged a resumption of ministerial talks on tourism between South Korea, Japan and China that were held from 2006 through 2011, but halted after the sixth meeting. The businessmen added that there is a "need to raise public interest for the undersea tunnel plan that could link South Korea to Japan by rail."

   The undersea tunnel project could create some 45,000 new jobs and generate 54 trillion won (US$53 billion) in economic benefits, according to an estimate by the Busan Development Institute.

In response, Keidanren officials stressed that Seoul and Tokyo need to send a message that they want to promote tourism, adding that the industry could spur more civilian exchanges and foster better relations.

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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