National

Disaster-hit Japan sees year-on-year visitor numbers drop in September for first time in over five years

Kyodo

The number of monthly foreign visitors to Japan in September dropped against the previous year for the first time since 2013, with the decline coming after a slew of natural disasters including a large earthquake and damaging typhoon, government data showed Tuesday.

The estimated number of foreign visitors totaled 2,159,600 in September, down 5.3 percent from the year before, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

The figure reflects the impact of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that rocked Hokkaido on Sept. 6, killing more than 40 people and triggering a prefecture-wide blackout, the agency said.

A typhoon that forced the temporary closure of Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the main international gateway by air to the western Japan region, also affected the number of visitors, according to the agency.

Foreign visitor figures posted double-digit year-on-year growth between February and June, but the pace of the increase slowed in July and August following an earthquake that jolted Osaka and torrential rains that devastated wide areas of western Japan.

By country and region, the largest number of tourists came from China at 652,700, down 3.8 percent, followed by South Korea at 479,700, down 13.9 percent, and Taiwan at 329,100, down 5.4 percent.

The total number of foreign travelers to Japan in the January to September period reached 23,468,500, up 10.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.