• Kyodo

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The culture ministers of Japan, China and South Korea on Friday adopted a declaration calling for the promotion of cultural exchanges among them despite tense Tokyo-Seoul ties due to trade and wartime labor issues.

The Incheon Declaration, endorsed at a ministerial meeting in the South Korean city, called for jointly holding cultural events during the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo and the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022.

The declaration also stated the three Asian neighbors will make joint efforts to fight the pirating of anime and manga and tap artificial intelligence and virtual reality in cultural promotions.

“While Japan-South Korea relations are in a difficult situation, deepening grassroots-level exchanges through cooperation in the cultural fields will help improve ties,” Masahiko Shibayama, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, told reporters after the meeting.

The three-way meeting, which was attended by Chinese culture minister Luo Shugang and South Korea’s Park Yang-woo, has been held almost every year since 2007, based on a trilateral summit agreement. Friday’s meeting was the 11th in the series.

At their talks, the ministers also selected three host cities they called the Culture Cities of East Asia 2020 for a variety of cultural and artistic events to be held with the aim of furthering relations. The cities selected were Kitakyushu, China’s Yangzhou and Suncheon in South Korea.

Tensions between Tokyo and Seoul have risen since Japan tightened controls on exports for critical chipmaking chemicals and other items, a move Seoul sees as retaliation for South Korean court rulings on forced wartime labor that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims.

Japan says wartime compensation issues were settled by a bilateral treaty that normalized diplomatic relations in 1965.

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