HANGZHOU, China (Kyodo) The tourism chiefs of Japan, China and South Korea agreed Sunday to get 26 million people to visit their three countries in 2015 — nearly double the total for 2009.

The target, mentioned in a joint statement from their trilateral meeting in China, noted that the three countries’ earlier goal of 17 million “intervisitations” in 2010 is expected to be achieved. A total of 13.5 million people traveled among the three East Asian countries in 2009.

“It is significant that the three countries set a target and confirmed what must be done to that end,” Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara said after signing the statement.

The three ministers also decided to share information related to tourism, including that pertaining to major natural disasters and infectious diseases, the statement said.

They also agreed at the meeting, the fifth trilateral tourism ministerial meeting, to cooperate on developing and utilizing such areas as health care, sports, movies, animation, and food and beverages to develop tourism.

Maehara, Chinese National Tourism Administration Chairman Shao Qiwei and South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yu In Chon visited the Hangzhou area in Zhejiang Province for a series of related meetings that ran from Saturday to Monday.

On Saturday, China’s Shao hinted that Japanese travel agencies might be allowed to sell services to Chinese tourists headed for Japan.

“We are now preparing to revise (relevant) laws,” Shao was quoted by Japanese officials as saying to Maehara.

Maehara later said that any deal might be restricted to frequent visitors.

“Japanese companies would be able to offer a wide range of travel plans to Chinese who travel to Japan repeatedly, since they have explored the tourism routes most extensively,” he said.

Later, Maehara held a meeting with South Korea’s Yu. Maehara proposed that the two countries make efforts to increase visitors both ways by taking advantage of a plan by Japanese and South Korean filmmakers to jointly film movies next year.

Maehara, who flew to Shanghai from Tokyo’s Haneda airport earlier in the day, inspected Chinese bullet train technology firsthand by riding a train with a top speed of over 300 kph from Shanghai to Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.

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