Foreign visitors soared 52% in January to second-largest monthly total

Kyodo

An estimated 1.85 million foreign visitors came to Japan in January, up 52 percent from a year earlier and the second-biggest total for a month ever, government data showed Tuesday.

The figure points to strong demand for tourism on the back of the weaker yen and relaxed visa requirements, even as worries linger over China’s economic slowdown and whether it will keep people away.

South Koreans led the field at 514,900, followed by 475,000 from China and 321,000 from Taiwan, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

Chinese visitors more than doubled from a year earlier as the beginning of the one-month school winter vacation was earlier than usual this year. In 2015, the vacation started at the end of January, but this year it began on or around Jan. 20.

The government is aiming to secure 20 million visitors by 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics. It now expects to achieve that goal in 2016 and is considering raising the 2020 target.

In 2015, a record 19.74 million foreigners visited Japan.

July last year saw the largest number of visitors ever, at 1.92 million.