• Kyodo

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The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the January-November period exceeded 12 million, figures showed Wednesday, as a weaker yen made hotels, food and travel more attractive to foreign-currency holders.

At this pace, the number of foreign visitors for the whole of 2014 is almost certain to surpass 13 million, well above the record of 10.36 million logged last year, Japan National Tourism Organization data show.

In November alone, the figure rose 39.1 percent from a year earlier to 1.17 million, eclipsing the 1 million mark for the ninth consecutive month.

Factors contributing to the rise also include the expansion of Japan’s list of duty-free items in October, the arrival of large cruise ships, and the popularity of tours timed to enjoy the nation’s autumn colors, the organization said.

Taiwanese nationals comprised the bulk of the visitors, up 27 percent from a year earlier to 2.62 million; South Koreans ranked second, rising 9.3 percent to 2.48 million; and China came third, with 2.22 million, up 82.2 percent.

The total for the 11-month period was an estimated 12.18 million.

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