The newly signed U.S.-Japan tourism promotion pact shows the United States is greatly aware of just how much Japanese tourists mean to its economy, according to U.S. tourism industry leaders who visited Japan last week to attend the agreement's signing ceremony.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans and transport minister Chikage Ogi on Friday signed the unprecedented bilateral agreement, under which the two countries aim to increase bilateral tourism by at least 20 percent in the next five years.

A bilateral tourism expansion council will also be created as well as two working groups led by industry representatives to achieve that goal.