• Kyodo News

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Japan is now safe from the threat of the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza epidemic, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko said Friday.

“There is no need to refrain from traveling if the reason is the fear of new-flu infections,” Kaneko said in a statement.

Kaneko, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, issued a safety declaration in Japanese and other languages amid a sharp fall in overseas tourists to Japan since the first domestic infections were confirmed in May.

On Wednesday, the government-affiliated Japan National Tourism Organization said foreign visitors to Japan fell 34.0 percent in May from a year earlier to 486,100, following the outbreak of the H1N1 flu strain in the country.

Kaneko said most infected people have already recovered. The number of new-flu infections in Japan had topped 1,000, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the World Health Organization reported earlier this week.

Kaneko said things are returning to normal in the Kansai region, where a large number of people, mainly students, were infected with the new flu.

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