The number of foreign nationals who entered Japan in 2019 came to 31.19 million, logging a record high for the seventh consecutive year, the Immigration Services Agency said in a preliminary report Friday.

The figure was based on the number of foreign tourists last year announced by the Japan Tourism Agency. But it added the number of re-entries by permanent foreign residents here and subtracted the number of foreign tourists who only briefly landed on Japanese soil via passenger ferries.

The number grew by 1.09 million from the previous year amid increased demand for travel to Japan, mainly among Chinese.

People from China made up the largest share of new foreign entrants, growing 24.7 percent to 7.42 million. They were followed by South Korean nationals, at 5.34 million, and those from Taiwan, at 4.52 million.

The number of entrants from South Korea, which topped the list in 2018, plunged 27.1 percent, apparently due to strained ties between Tokyo and Seoul. The number fell by half in the second part of the year.

The number of Japanese who traveled overseas rose 5.9 percent to a record high of 20.08 million in 2019.

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