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Japan sees tourism boom

Long lines of Japanese cherry blossom viewers file under blooming trees at Tokyo's Kitanomaru Park. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Long lines of Japanese cherry blossom viewers file under blooming trees at Tokyo's Kitanomaru Park. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

Published Jan 9, 2014

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Tokyo - A record 11.25 million tourists visited Japan in 2013, up 22.7 per cent from a year earlier, the government said Thursday, amid a falling yen and a growing number of Asian tourists.

An estimated 2.31 million were from South Korea, the biggest market, up 21.2 per cent from a year earlier, preliminary data released by the Justice Ministry showed.

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This was followed by 2.16 million Taiwanese, which showed a year-on-year jump of 51.5 per cent.

The number of tourists from China, the third-largest market, declined 6.4 per cent to 983 270, amid strained relations with Japan over a territorial spat.

The overall increase was also attributed to the relaxation of visa requirements for visitors from some South-East Asian countries. Thailand became the sixth-largest market in 2013, as the number of Thai visitors grew 77.2 per cent to 443,740.

Former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi set a goal in 2003 to double the number of overseas visitors to 10 million by 2010.

In 2011, the figure plunged 24.4 per cent to 7.14 million due to a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Sapa-dpa

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