Japan aims to lure Southeast Asian tourists amid struggle with China

Japan will need to attract more tourists from Southeast Asia, instead of counting on Chinese travelers amid a territorial row, according to a draft 2013 white paper on tourism obtained by Kyodo News on Saturday.

In its white paper, the government plans to state that Japan has not attracted tourists from a wide range of nations as people from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong accounted for about 65 percent of all visitors to Japan in 2012.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to make Japan one of the world's most popular tourist destinations as part of his attempts to spur economic growth.

The white paper will also stress that Japan must learn from the experience of seeing a 40 percent year-on-year drop in the number of Chinese visitors in the final quarter of 2012 after Tokyo put the Senkaku Islands under state control in September.

The islands have been claimed by Beijing and are called Diaoyu in China.

The Japanese government is working to relax travel visa requirements for Southeast Asian nations, where people are getting wealthier amid fast-paced economic development.

Tokyo will also encourage Muslims to visit the country by introducing Japanese food such as noodles, sushi and tempura, which are not made with pork.

The white paper will be finalized as early as next month.