The culture ministers of Japan, China and South Korea met Saturday in the ancient South Korean city of Gwangju and designated one East Asia City of Culture in each country.

Culture minister Hakubun Shimomura nominated Yokohama, a historic port city known for international exchanges, while China's envoy chose Quanzhou, an ancient trading port in southern Fujian province, and South Korea's representative selected Gwangju, for its more than 2,000-year history.

The three cities will serve as the principal venues for a series of cultural and arts exchange programs to be organized next year to promote mutual understanding among the three neighbors, whose ties have been harmed by increasingly rancorous territorial clashes and conflicting historical interpretations.