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50 Chinese Lost Contact with Tourist Group in Japan
Among the 5,000-people group who went to Japan for celebration of the 30th anniversary of normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations, 50 have been reportedly missing.

Now the China National Tourism Administration is busily looking into the case together with the Japan-side Highway Industry Development Organization, and departments such as the Chinese Embassy in Japan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan are also closely concerned with the matter.

Missing Chinese All from Non-governmental Tourist Groups

Except from some actors and officials from China's tourism, foreign affairs, public security and civil aviation departments, most of the other people are tourist groups led by non-governmental travel agencies, according to the Highway Industry Development Organization.

Japan had originally set many limitations in opening its tourism market to China, including that tourists must set out in a group from Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, led by appointed agencies and the visa is valid only for 15 days.

But this times' activity is under the theme of friendly ties between China and Japan and both governments opened green light by extending the visa to 90 days and lifting limitation on departure cities.

It is "quite normal" for people to get missing under such circumstances, a manager from a Japanese travel agency said.

Statistics show that since Japan set loose restrictions on issuing tourist visa for China two years ago, similar incidents happened quite often and altogether 84 people, among the total 26,000 Chinese tourists, went astray and lost contact with their groups.

China Opposes Japanese Press Playing up the Matter

Most Japanese newspapers were busily wiping the news across their headlines after learning it.

A Japan-China friendly personage pointed out that such a matter is not worth being fried up, for which can be easily regarded as a revenge for the press war over the consulate intrusion incident.

Since there are still two months before their visas get invalid, it is too early to say these missing Chinese are deliberate to stay in Japan illegally, an official from the Chinese embassy said.

In fact, by now seven or eight once "missing" tourists have returned to their group, who were later found lost contact when going out for private affairs.

So the official said it's fairer to call this a "short escape" rather than "missing."

(People's Daily May 27, 2002)

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