• Kyodo

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The government has decided to craft a law aimed at attracting more foreign visitors to museums and other cultural institutions outside of Japan’s major cities, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The law would enable the government to provide subsidies aimed at improving access to such facilities. It is part of the government’s efforts to increase the number of tourists visiting areas beyond Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, and to promote Japanese culture and history.

Boosting the tourism appeal of regional areas is seen as a key step for the government to hit its target of drawing 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 and 60 million in 2030.

Under the planned law, the government would give subsidies to projects aimed at improving transportation from railway stations and airports to cultural institutions such as museums, theaters and music halls.

The financial support would also go toward improving Wi-Fi access and multilingual services at such facilities and upgrading their ability to accept cashless payments for tickets, the sources said Monday.

Relevant entities such as museum operators and municipalities would need to draw up plans for boosting tourism before they could become eligible for the assistance.

The government is expected to submit the bill to the Diet during the regular legislative session that will start in January, according to the sources.

They said the program will receive about ¥2 billion in funding for fiscal 2020, which will start April 1. Around 25 locations across the country will be selected for consideration during the first year.

The number of visitors to museums, zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens hit a record high of over 140 million in fiscal 2017, apparently reflecting their popularity among foreign tourists, according to data from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

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