Southeast Asians, Muslims targeted to offset drop in Chinese tourists

Kyodo

Japan will need to attract more visitors from Southeast Asia to counter falling tourist numbers from China amid territorial tensions, a draft of the 2013 white paper on tourism says.

Tourists from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong accounted for about 65 percent of all visitors to Japan in 2012, the draft obtained Saturday said.

However, the number of Chinese fell 40 percent year on year in the final quarter after Tokyo put the Senkaku Islands under state control in September. The islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan.

While the government has promised to relax visa requirements for Southeast Asian nations to bolster visitors from this region, it has also unveiled plans to increase the number of Muslim tourists by promoting such local delicacies as noodles, sushi and tempura, which are not made with pork and thus cater to their dietary restrictions.

The white paper will be finalized next month.