• Kyodo

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An entire shopping arcade in the city of Okayama became duty-free on Thursday, the first such mall to do so nationwide as Japan tries to lure visitors to destinations away from the heavily trodden tourist trail between Tokyo and Kyoto.

About 20 shops in central Okayama took advantage of a government program from April that promotes tax-free shops by allowing the installment of a single counter to refund foreign shoppers, a procedure that had been a burden for individual shops before. In the Okayama case, the arcade set up a common tax refund counter for member stores.

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