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Major U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group Inc. will consider investing in tourism-linked companies in Japan, expecting inbound travel demand to recover after the coronavirus crisis, sources said Monday.

Blackstone forecasts that demand erased by the COVID-19 pandemic may return to some extent in the next two or three years, the sources said.

Tourism, besides medicine and logistics services, will be among the three focus areas in Japan, where Blackstone plans to invest some ¥100 billion annually, the sources said.

The number of foreign travelers to Japan in May plummeted 99.9 percent from a year before to a record low of 1,700, battering the country's tourism and event industries.

Meanwhile, a financial industry official said that the development of COVID-19 drugs "will change (the situation) for the better," given unabated interest in visiting Japan among foreigners.

Blackstone is seeking opportunities to invest in accommodations businesses and providers of goods and services targeting foreign travelers, while checking the status of coronavirus travel restrictions around the world, the sources said.

"We'll also consider bailout investments" in sectors where demand recovery can be expected, said Atsuhiko Sakamoto, a Tokyo-based senior managing director of Blackstone's Private Equity Group.

Blackstone plans to invest a total of some ¥500 billion in Japanese companies over the five years from 2019.

Last year, it bought Ayumi Pharmaceutical Corp., a Tokyo-based medium-sized generic drug company, for about ¥100 billion.

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