A record 19.73 million people visited Japan in 2015, marking the first time in 45 years that the number of incoming travelers surpassed the outbound figure, the tourism ministry said Tuesday.

The announcement confirms once again that the nation is almost sure to achieve its target of attracting 20 million foreign visitors in a year by 2020. The success has sparked the government to think about revising the target upward.

The 19.73 million visitors marked a 47.3 percent increase from 2014, when 13.41 million people entered Japan, and is nearly four times the 5.21 million who visited in 2003 when the "Visit Japan" campaign began.