Japan, China and South Korea agreed Saturday to jointly hold cultural promotion projects during the next three Olympic and Paralympic Games, all of which will be held in East Asia.

The agreement included bids to strengthen copyright protections for cultural products and to promote a trilateral dialogue on preserving the intangible cultural heritage of all three countries.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Chinese Cultural Minister Luo Shugang and South Korean Culture, Sports, and Tourism Minister Do Jong-hwan also agreed to support the activities of UNESCO’s International Research Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region. The center works to protect, preserve and promote intangible culture such as traditional music, dance, performing arts and craftsmanship.

As of January, Japan had 21 items listed as intangible cultural heritage, including nōgaku theater, washoku (traditional dietary culture), and washi (traditional hand-made paper).

With regional tourism and cultural exchanges booming despite sharp political differences over recent history, and shared concerns over North Korea’s missile launches, all three countries see next year’s Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as opportunities to promote East Asia’s traditional culture to the world, especially via culturally influential cities in the region.

“We’ll be working at the details of developing a joint cultural program for next year’s Olympics in the months ahead,” Hayashi told reporters following a summit with his counterparts.

The ministers produced a Kyoto Declaration outlining broad steps the countries would take to strengthen cultural exchanges at the government, academic and individual levels.

One area Hayashi said the ministers did not touch on was efforts by individual countries to get international recognition for specific, tangible cultural or historical assets. Last month, Japan protested South Korea’s support for efforts to get UNESCO to inscribe documents related to the “comfort women,” who were forced to provide sex at Japanese military brothels before and during World War II, in its Memory of the World project.

The trilateral summit took place just before a summit of nearly 20 representatives from a dozen East Asian cities and ASEAN nations to discuss their efforts at building regional exchanges through the preservation and promotion of local tangible and intangible cultures. Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa emphasized that the ancient, connected historical exchanges of the region were a powerful form of diplomacy to counter current political tensions.

“The East Asian region shares a long history of exchanges. Here in Kyoto, you can see and feel the cultural elements of the region. The power of culture can help bring the region together, and lead to peace,” Kadokawa said.

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