The Yomiuri ShimbunThe number of foreign tourists who visited Japan in 2018 marked a record high for the sixth year in a row at 31.19 million, up about 2.5 million — or 8.7 percent — from the previous year, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Friday.
The figure has increased threefold in five years since 2013, when the number of visitors to Japan topped 10 million.
Behind the increase are such factors as the Japanese government relaxing requirements for issuing visas, mainly for visitors from Asian countries, as well as the expansion of air routes.
A series of natural disasters that hit Japan in 2018 caused a drop in the number of visitors in September from a year earlier for the first time in five years and eight months since January 2013. However, the figure has since recovered.
The government has set a goal of raising the number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020.