Japan will relax its visa restrictions on Chinese tourists to allow group tours from more areas beginning Sept. 15, top government spokesman Hiroyuki Hosoda said Friday.

Japan and China agreed last month that Japan will issue 15-day visas for the first time to tourists from Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, plus Tianjin, in addition to those allowed already from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong Province.

The government hopes to double the number of foreign visitors to Japan to 10 million during the decade to 2010 under its “Visit Japan” campaign.

Japan has limited the number of Chinese tourists to prevent people from working illegally in Japan. Group tours from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong were permitted beginning September 2000, and the number of tourists from these three centers is now more than 30,000 annually.

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