Korea, Japan, China agree to boost cultural ties

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Korea, Japan, China agree to boost cultural ties


Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Yang-woo, center, poses with his Japanese counterpart, Masahiko Shibayama, left, and Chinese counterpart, Luo Shugang, right, at the Songdo Convensia in Incheon on Friday. [YONHAP]

The culture ministers of Korea, Japan and China signed an agreement Friday that lays out a 10-year vision for their trilateral cooperation on the culture front, a rare pause in the escalating diplomatic and trade row between Seoul and Tokyo.

The “Incheon Declaration” was signed by the Korean Minister Park Yang-woo and his Japanese and Chinese counterparts, Masahiko Shibayama and Luo Shugang, at the end of the 11th annual cultural ministerial meeting of the three neighboring nations held in the Korean city of Incheon.

Since the first session of the ministerial conference held in China in 2007, the trilateral talks have brought together the cultural ministers of the three nations every year to find a common agenda on cultural cooperation and commit to its implementation.

This year’s edition comes as Korea is witnessing one of the worst diplomatic and trade rows with Japan.

Since Japan slapped restrictions on its exports of essential high-tech materials to Korea last month, ties have soured drastically.

Last week, Seoul decided to terminate the vital intelligence sharing deal, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia), with Tokyo, a move which was followed by Japan’s official removal of Korea from its so-called white list of trusted trade partners Wednesday. The latest developments sent the bilateral relationship into a free fall.

The Incheon Declaration, adopted against such a backdrop, made a point of asserting the importance of cultural cooperation as a way to secure peace in the region.

“The three nations made it clear that the trilateral cooperation involving Korea, China and Japan for the future should be pursued in a way that [like in the past] promotes cultural diversity on the principle of mutual trust, respect and benefits, and contributes to the building of regional peace in East Asia,” the joint agreement showed.

The agreement also committed the three nations to working together for the following decade on subjects such as youth exchanges, climate change, aging societies and the fourth industrial revolution.

Also pledged in the trilateral declaration were joint cultural programs on the sidelines of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, as well as closer cooperation in cultural content creation, copyright protection and preservation of heritage assets.

“I hope from the bottom of my heart that the three nations can raise their cultural receptivity by jointly responding through cultural cooperation to many common issues and this in turn could lead to their common prosperity and the peace and the symbiosis of the East Asian community,” Park said in his opening speech for the meeting.

The trilateral culture and tourism ministers’ meeting kicked off in Incheon for a three-day run. The tourism ministers of the three nations are set to sit down for talks later in the day.

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