Japan to take foreign reporters on 10-day isle dispute junket

Kyodo

The Foreign Ministry plans to invite more than 100 U.S. and European journalists stationed in China and South Korea to come to Japan early next year to school them on the government’s stance on two territorial disputes involving tiny islands.

The ministry will take the scribes to Okinawa Prefecture, which administers the Senkaku Islands claimed by China and Taiwan as Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, and to Shimane Prefecture, which lays claim to Dokdo, the South Korea-controlled islets called Takeshima by Japan.

The trips will allow the reporters to be briefed by experts on the disputes and interview local people over a 10-day span, government officials said.

The ministry earmarked ¥200 million for the project in the extra budget for fiscal 2013.

The plan reflects the government’s apparent need to counter China’s growing international profile. Many U.S. and European news organizations have relocated offices from Japan to China.

In 1997, 295 foreign media companies kept branch offices in Tokyo compared with 209 this year, but Beijing hosted 385 branch offices this year versus 210 in 2004.

“We will be able to see a high investment effect (through this project) by winning U.S. and European reporters over to our side,” a ministry official said.