• Kyodo News

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July saw a monthly record 879,000 foreign tourists visiting Japan, after visa requirements for Chinese were relaxed, sparking a steep increase in their numbers, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday.

The previous record for the month was 825,000, set in 2008.

Japan began issuing tourist visas to high-income individual Chinese in addition to group tour participants in July 2009. Last month, the government started issuing them to middle-income individuals.

As a result, the number of Chinese who visited Japan last month reached an all-time high of 165,000. The previous record was 101,000 in July 2007.

The number of travelers from Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, France and Malaysia also set new highs for July, according to the organization.

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