• Kyodo

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The total number of foreign visitors surged by more than a quarter from January through July this year compared with the first half of 2015, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday.

Numbers leaped an estimated 26.7 percent for the period, to 14.01 million, surpassing the 11.05 million logged last year, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday.

In July alone, the number hit a new monthly record with 2,296,500 visitors, up 19.7 percent from a year earlier, helped largely by a rise in the number of port calls by foreign cruise ships and greater tourism promotion overseas.

The latest monthly figure shows numbers have recovered after a slowdown prompted by the quakes that pummeled Kyushu in April, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

In July, China accounted for the largest number of visitors at 731,400, followed by South Korea at 447,000 and Taiwan at 397,000. Visitors from Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines also increased, according to the agency.

Japan has recently doubled its annual target of overseas tourists visiting the country in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to 40 million.

Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Akihiko Tamura told reporters the agency expects the total number of foreign visitors this year to surpass 20 million in late November, if not earlier.

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