Japan will not be taking part in Shanghai's big international tourism fair amid diplomatic tension with China over a territorial dispute, Japanese television channel NHK said Saturday.
According to the network, the organizers of this month's event asked early this week that the Japanese Tourism Agency cancel its participation, without offering further explanations.
Besides the Japanese agency, the 29 tourist and municipal organizations in Japan that were thinking of attending the Shanghai fair have opted out, according to NHK.
Japan would have used the event to promote different destinations in hopes of boosting the number of Chinese visitors, who, since the conflict between the two countries flared up again in September over the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, have been staying away in ever-increasing numbers.
The China International Travel Mart, which will be open between November 15-18, is expecting more than 100,000 visitors.
The bilateral tension between the two Asian powers boiled over again after Japan announced in September the purchase of three of the islands of the disputed island chain, which sparked violent anti-Japan protests in a number of Chinese cities that in turn led to the suspension of events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the two countries' renewal of diplomatic ties and forced many Japanese companies in China to suspend operations temporarily.
Chinese patrol boats expelled last Tuesday several Japanese ships from waters near this island chain in the East China Sea, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The Japanese ships, whose number was not specified, were intercepted by four vessels from China Marine Surveillance, Xinhua said, without commenting on what was done to make them leave the archipelago.
"If Japan continues down its current wrong path and takes more erroneous actions and creates incidents regarding the Diaoyu Islands and challenges China, China will definitely take strong measures to respond to that," Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said earlier.
It is believed that the group of small islands, uninhabited and with an expanse of 7 square kilometers (2 3/4 square miles), has valuable gas and oil deposits as well as teeming fishing waters. It is currently administered de facto by Japan although China insists on its sovereignty. EFE