Japan is already seeing an increase in inbound travelers since relaxing its COVID-19 border controls last week, but a full recovery will remain elusive until China opens up, said the head of the country's biggest international airport.

Narita Airport chief executive Akihiko Tamura said a jump in overseas arrivals in Japan's biggest international travel hub was an indication of this broader trend.

International arrivals have ticked up about 10 percentage points to about 30% of pre-pandemic levels since Japan reinstated visa-free travel to tourists on Oct. 11, Tamura said, citing airport research.