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Foreign visitors to Japan hit 20 million this year at record pace

Kyodo

The number of foreign visitors to Japan has reached an estimated 20 million in 2018 at its quickest annual pace, particularly helped by Chinese tourists, the government said Monday.

The figure topped the 20 million mark last Wednesday, one month earlier than the previous record set in 2017 that saw 28.7 million visitors over the 12-month period, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Hokkaido.

If the current pace is maintained, this year’s figure will top 30 million for the first time, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

The government’s aim is to attract 40 million visitors in 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has taken measures such as easing visa rules and promoting airport expansions for budget airlines in order to reach that goal.

Individual tourists and cruise passengers from China have contributed to the record pace of growth in foreign visitors, the agency said. Visitors from South Korea and other Asian countries have also helped lift the overall figure.

But being prone to natural disasters, Japan also marked slower growth in its number of foreign visitors in July due to earthquakes and torrential rain in western areas, the agency said.