Number of tourists to visit Japan so far this year tops 10 million


More than 10 million foreigners are believed to have visited Japan so far this year, amid a weakening yen and relaxed visa restrictions for some nationals.

Foreign arrivals in the January to September period soared 26 percent from the same period a year earlier to a record 9.73 million, government data showed on Wednesday.

At this pace, the number of foreign visitors for the whole of 2014 is almost certain to surpass the previous high of 10.36 million, which was logged in 2013, the Japan National Tourism Agency said.

The increase in foreign visitors to Japan was also attributable to a greater number of international flights being given slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, the government body said.

Shigeto Kubo, head of the agency, told a press conference that the number of foreign visitors is believed to have surpassed 10 million earlier in October and that the annual total will likely top 12 million.

In September alone, the figure rose 26.8 percent from a year before to 1.09 million, eclipsing the 1 million mark for the seventh consecutive month.

China accounted for the largest number of visitors in September, up 57.6 percent from a year earlier to 246,100.

Taiwan ranked second, with the number of travelers rising 6.7 percent to 220,800, and South Korea came third with 217,700, up 32.3 percent.

The government aims to boost the number of annual foreign visitors to Japan to 20 million by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games. It aims to turn Japan into a tourism-oriented country.

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