The number of visitors to Japan is expected to approach 20 million this year if the recent growth trend continues, Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Akihiko Tamura said this week.
At a news conference Wednesday, Tamura said the annual number “will exceed 19.5 million unless any (negative) external factors arise.”
He made the remark after the Japan National Tourism Organization confirmed that 17,964,400 people visited Japan between January and November, up 47.5 percent from the same period last year.
According to the organization, overseas visitors continued to soar thanks to a weak yen, increased flights to and from Japan and an expansion of consumption tax exemptions, fueling shopping sprees.
The 11-month tally is far higher than the full-year record of 13.41 million set last year.
By region, visitors from mainland China accounted for the biggest share, reaching 4,646,700 — more than double the previous year.
South Korea was second with 3,586,400 visitors, up 44.4 percent. Taiwan followed with 3,411,300 visitors, up 30.3 percent.
Visitors from Hong Kong jumped 66.7 percent and those from Vietnam were up 50.5 percent. Visitors from Europe, the United States and Australia also soared.
In November alone, the estimated number of visitors to Japan stood at 1,647,600, up 41.0 percent from a year before. The figure is a record high for the month.
The Japanese government has set a target of boosting the annual number of visitors to 20 million by 2020. On Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the next target will be 30 million visitors.