The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)
Tokyo–Seoul friction threatens visitor target

Deteriorating relations between Japan and South Korea have caused a sharp decline in inbound tourism. On August 30, then-MLIT Minister Keiichi Ishii attended the 9th Japan–China–South Korea Tourism Summit, where he met with South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Yang-woo and China’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang.
The key item taken up by Ishii and Park was how to slow the decline in visitors from South Korea to Japan. The talks were essentially fruitless.
Both officials did agree to “deal with the issues as adults,” and ended the meetings on a cordial note. Still, the tense bilateral ties cast doubt on Japan’s ability to achieve its target of 40 million inbound visitors annually.
For several years now, South Korea has been the second-largest source of inbound visitors to Japan after China, accounting for 25 percent of the total. In July, however, that number fell by eight percent year on year, and the overall January–July figures were down by four percent.
A MLIT source said: “People in other ministries, or the Prime Minister’s Office, are saying it’s okay if tourist numbers from South Korea decline, as long as we make up for it by attracting more from other countries. But it’s hard enough to realize the target of 40 million even if we’re able to do everything we’re supposed to do.”
Many South Korean travelers come to Japan via ferries connecting Fukuoka and Busan, or low-cost carriers that serve Japan’s regional airports, so there’s no doubt that a decline in visitors will negatively impact regional economies.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF)
Developing a mid- to long-term vision for reviving industries in Tohoku

New measures have been adopted by MAFF to help forestry and fishery industries in Fukushima Prefecture continue their recovery from the nuclear power plant disaster of March 2011. The Japan Agricultural Cooperative Group’s Fukushima central committee has been working with the mayors and heads of the 12 hardest-hit villages and towns, inclu­ding Minamisoma, Idate, and Namie.
Advanced technologies and a focus on businesses with the highest labor produc­tivity is one approach being taken to confront the problems. Next April, new guidelines will call for promotion of a people-focused system. A MAFF staff member will be posted to each of the 12 cities to coordinate with local redevelopment teams and promote agricultural enterprises, expand sales channels, and dispel negative rumors.
This will be done through tie-ups with industry groups in the affected areas. To reduce anxieties, explanations of survey results will be provided at events, and more marketing efforts will be made targeting large retail chains as well as food and beverage businesses.
Agriculture Minister Takamori Yoshikawa said, “From next year, in addition to issuing statements to a variety of mass media, plans will call for more efforts to sell to more insti­­tutional buyers, such as company dining halls.”
The move is in response to the large amount of farmland that remains fallow. Of 17,290 hectares, cultivation has resumed on just 4,345—about 25 percent. In response to a questionnaire, 60 percent of farmers said they “have yet to decide when they’ll resume cultivation” or “have no intention to resume.” Advanced age may also be a factor.
Other measures will include efforts to revitalize the forests and forestry industries that were adversely affected by radioactive substances. This will be done through instal­lation of equipment to measure radiation at lumber factories and distribution facilities.
With regard to fisheries, added measures to boost dissemination of safety data will be adopted to dispel negative rumors and convince foreign importers to relax their controls. And with the aim of returning to full-scale operations, assistance will be provided to bolster the manufacturing and distribution systems.