The government probably can't take credit for the increase in the number of foreign tourists. Many of its projects to attract visitors, such as inviting foreign travel agencies to Japan, participating in trade shows overseas and various advertising campaigns, are ineffective, according to a recent report by the internal affairs ministry.

Of the 244 projects the Japan Tourism Agency funded from fiscal 2010 to 2012, 31 of them, on which the agency spent as much as ¥90 million, failed to attract even one tourist.

In one failed case, the government spent about ¥3 million to bring over Chinese journalists to get them to write about traveling in Japan. Not one of the 600 visitors the project was meant to attract materialized.

The effectiveness of 119 projects can't even be assessed, the report said.

JTA official Hayato Takaishi said the agency has no system to determine whether projects work in the long term.

He said the agency's local branches outsource the projects to private firms on a one-year contract basis. But once the fiscal year ends, the firms don't have to report whether any visitors were attracted. The complete failure of the 31 projects were just the results of one fiscal year, Takaishi said.

"It takes more than a year for some projects to actually begin to work . . . even though the report says that these projects were not effective, not all of them failed," he said.