The number of foreign visitors to Japan grew 18.1 percent in April from a year earlier to reach a record high 923,000, thanks to a weakening yen and the popularity of low-cost carriers, a government body said Wednesday.
The figure eclipsed the previous high of 879,000 set in July 2010, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
“The figure is not bad, but more needs to be done” to reach Japan’s goal of having 10 million visitors for the year, Japan Tourism Agency chief Norifumi Ide said at a press conference.
On the government’s work to relax visa requirements for Southeast Asian countries to encourage more visitors from the region, he said, “Work is in progress at the Foreign Ministry so it will be completed for most of (the target countries) by the summer,” when foreign travelers increase.
By country and region, South Koreans accounted for the largest proportion of foreign visitors, at 204,200, up 33.7 percent, followed by Taiwanese at 197,900, up 42.5 percent.
The number of visitors from Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, France and Russia were also the highest for any month.
But those from China dropped 33.0 percent to 100,200, affected by tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over the Senkaku Islands territorial dispute. The East China Sea islets are held by Japan but also claimed by China, where they are known as the Diaoyu.