Japan to invite foreign correspondents to appeal territorial stance

The Foreign Ministry plans to invite more than 100 U.S. and European correspondents stationed in China and South Korea to Japan early next year to appeal the nation's stance over two territorial disputes, according to government officials.

The ministry will take them to Okinawa Prefecture, which administers the Senkaku Islands claimed by China, and Shimane Prefecture, which claims Takeshima Island controlled by South Korea, so the reporters can be briefed by experts on the territorial rows and interview local people during their 10-day stay in Japan, the officials said.

The ministry has allocated 200 million yen for the project in the fiscal 2013 extraordinary budget.

The Senkaku Islands are called Diaoyu in China, while Takeshima is called Dokdo in South Korea.

The plan apparently reflects China's growing assertiveness in international society, with many U.S. and European news media organizations relocating their offices to China from Japan. In 1997, 295 foreign media companies had branch offices in Tokyo, but the number has fallen to 209 this year, while Beijing has 385 branch offices of foreign media organizations this year, compared with 210 in 2004.

"We will be able to see a high investment effect (through this project) by winning U.S. and European reporters over to our side," a ministry official said.