• Kyodo


The estimated number of foreign passengers arriving in Japan soared 29.1 percent in January from a year earlier to 1,218,400, hitting a record high for the month, government data showed on Wednesday.

The Japan National Tourism Organization said the increase was due partly to the popularity of skiing and snow-related leisure activities. Relaxed visa requirements for visitors from Southeast Asia, the yen’s depreciation and the expansion of a list of duty-free products for foreign tourists also contributed to the rise, the agency said.

The largest number of visitors for the month came from South Korea, with the number jumping 40.1 percent from a year earlier to 358,100, due to an expansion in the service by low-cost carriers linking the country with Japan.

China ranked second, with the number surging 45.4 percent to 226,300 thanks to an increase in those traveling on their own for shopping, the JNTO said.

Taiwan came third with 217,000, up 10.2 percent, also due to increased budget-carrier flights to Japan. The figure was a record high for the 24th consecutive month.

The JNTO said it expects the number of travelers from regions such as China and Taiwan to surge in February because of the Lunar New Year holidays starting on Wednesday.

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