NAGASAKI – HTB Cruise Co. said Wednesday it has suspended its large liner service between Nagasaki and Shanghai until March 15 as relations between Japan and China remain strained over the Senkaku territorial dispute.
The subsidiary of theme park operator Huis Ten Bosch Co. said it will try to determine by late January if the March 15 resumption is feasible. The company initially hoped it could restart the cruises by the end of this year.
Passenger numbers fell sharply following the central government’s purchase in mid-September of three of the islets, angering China.
The territorial row has affected numerous businesses in the tourism industry, ranging from travel agents to airlines.
According to data released Tuesday by Japan Airlines, the number of passengers on its flights between Japan and China dropped to 68,311 in October, down 33 percent from the year before.
JAL was forced to slash flights on its Narita-Beijing, Narita-Shanghai and Kansai-Shanghai routes starting on Oct. 10, but then normalized services Nov. 18 as demand built back up, especially in the business travel sector.
Its flights between Japan and South Korea have meanwhile been affected by the territorial row over the Takeshima outcroppings in the Sea of Japan controlled by South Korea. The number of passengers on JAL’s flights connecting the two countries came to 71,954 in October, down 11.9 percent from the previous year.
Senkaku fishery talks
Taiwan and Japan will hold a meeting Friday in Tokyo to prepare for the reopening of talks on fishing rights in contested waters in the East China Sea, according to Taiwanese officials.
The talks, aimed at eventually signing a fishing treaty, have not been held since February 2009 due to the row over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands.
Since then, Japan Coast Guard vessels have had confrontations with Taiwanese trawlers pressing to be allowed to operate in waters around the disputed islets.