SHANGHAI, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- A group of Chinese tourists who recently arrived in Japan have aroused controversy online, with some netizens believing the visit is inappropriate at a time when both countries are locked in a sovereignty dispute regarding the Diaoyu Islands.
The trip was organized by Costa Cruises, one of the largest cruise operators in the world, said a company manager surnamed Xu, adding that the schedule for the trip was arranged earlier this year.
Five hundred of the 2,000 people who signed up for the trip canceled right before it began, Xu said.
The remaining 1,500 tourists arrived in the city of Yatsushiro on Saturday.
Although some netizens said the trip indicates that tensions have started to ease between the two countries, others have been critical.
"Japanese from all walks of life have been worried about economic sanctions by China. However, a visit by such a big group will undoubtedly ease their worries," wrote user "fushangzaisongjiang" on Tencent Weibo, a popular microblogging site.
Travel agencies in some Chinese cities have canceled group trips to Japan and are looking for alternatives in the wake of Chinese protests over Japan's illegal "purchase" of part of the Diaoyu Islands.
"The company is considering canceling a cruise to Japan next March if bilateral tensions continue," said Xu.
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