Nearly one in three Japanese — 32.4 percent — say they do not want to see more foreign tourists visiting Japan, with 90.2 percent of them citing a rise in crimes allegedly committed by foreign nationals as the reason, according to a government poll released Saturday.

In contrast, 48.2 percent said they favor an increase in foreign tourists.

The results indicate Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s initiative to double the number of foreign tourists to Japan by 2010 as a way to help spur the economy has little popular support, government officials said.

The National Police Agency said that last year a record-high 16,212 foreign nationals were arrested or their cases were sent to prosecutors for alleged violations of the Penal Code, immigration and other laws. The total represented an increase of 10.6 percent from 2001, according to the agency’s white paper, released in September.

While the reported increase is not necessarily blamed on tourists, the latest poll highlights the need for the government to increase efforts to gain more understanding for its tourism campaign.

The public opinion poll was conducted in late August on 3,000 people nationwide aged 20 or older, of whom 2,111, or 70.4 percent, responded.

Of those polled, 53 percent were opposed to government moves to simplify visa and other immigration procedures that may stand in the way of increasing numbers of tourists from overseas.

Listing preconditions for a simplification of the visa system, 38.6 percent want unauthorized labor by foreign visitors to be resolved and Japan’s worsening public safety conditions to be addressed, while 14.4 percent said they do not consider visas to be an obstacle.

The poll, conducted every two to five years, included the questions on foreign tourists as part of the “visit Japan campaign,” launched this fiscal year by Koizumi.

The number of foreign tourists to Japan stood at 5.23 million last year, but the government aims to increase the figure to 10 million by 2010.

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