The number of foreign tourists to Japan is set to rise for the seventh straight year and hit a record level of more than 30 million in 2018, the tourism minister has said.
"We are still on the way to our goal but I am glad that the number is steadily growing," Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said at a news conference on Friday. "We will strive to promote tourism as much as we can."
The government is targeting 40 million foreign visitors by 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympics. Japan logged an all-time high of 28.69 million foreign visitors in 2017, up 19.3 percent from the previous year.
Growth in inbound tourism continues despite a series of natural disasters this year. Kansai International Airport in Osaka and New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido were both temporarily closed in September following a strong typhoon and earthquake, respectively.
Japan has seen a continued rise in foreign tourists from Asian countries, particularly China, as a result of eased visa requirements and an expanded tax exemption program.