Bilateral cultural event with South Korea draws 40,000

Kyodo

A bilateral cultural exchange event with South Korea drew an estimated 40,000 visitors in Seoul, exceeding expectations despite the tension over the Takeshima sovereignty dispute, according to the organizers.

The event Wednesday featured a “taiko” drumming performance by high school students from disaster-hit Fukushima and Iwate prefectures to demonstrate the Tohoku region’s recovery from the March 2011 calamities.

Also showcased were traditional performances from other parts of Japan and illuminated floats from Aomori Prefecture’s Nebuta Festival. The event also gave visitors a chance to check out various foods and traditional attire from both countries.

The event was launched in 2005 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral relations. Part of this year’s event was staged in Tokyo from Saturday through Tuesday.

Bilateral relations have deteriorated alarmingly since South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s August visit to Takeshima in the Sea of Japan. The islets are controlled by Seoul, which calls them Dokdo, but have long been claimed by Japan.