• Kyodo

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The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan rose 5.6 percent in July from a year earlier to 2,832,000, but the pace of increase slowed due to the natural disasters that have hit the country over the past few months, government data showed Wednesday.

The figure was the highest on record for July, but the rate of increase slipped below 10 percent for the first time since February as the number of tourists from South Korea and Hong Kong declined in the wake of the torrential rain, flooding and landslides in western Japan in July and a strong quake that rattled northern Osaka Prefecture in June.

By country and region, China ranked first at 879,100, up 12.6 percent, followed by South Korea at 608,000, down 5.6 percent; Taiwan at 460,500, up 3.1 percent; and Hong Kong at 226,800, down 3.3 percent, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the January-July period climbed 13.9 percent from a year before to 18,730,900, according to the agency.

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