South Koreans accounted for the biggest portion of foreign tourists visiting Japan this year. However, the number of Japanese tourists visiting South Korea rather declined this year from last year.
According to the Japanese government tourism bureau on Sunday, the number of foreign tourists who visited Japan for the first two months of this year came to 5,010,800. South Korean tourists stood at 1,512,100 in total, up 23.4 percent year-on-year from 1,225,160, ranking first overall by nationality.
The figure for South Koreans exceeds the number of Chinese tourists to Japan, who ranked first in number of foreign tourists last year. Last year, a total of 7,355,800 Chinese nationals visited Japan, as Chinese tourists ranked first overall. The number of Chinese tourists who visited Japan this year was 1,348,700, up 18.3 year-on-year, but it lagged behind that of South Koreans.
Analysts say that South Korean tourists are heading to Japan in droves because they are avoiding visiting China, as “tourism Cold War” with China has continued since March last year following South Korea’s deployment of THAAD missile defense system. In addition, the Japanese government’s policy to attract foreign tourists amid a weak Japanese currency is also contributing to a hike in the number of South Koreans visiting Japan.
In contrast, the number of Japanese tourists who visited South Korea in January and February came to 335,324, down 1.3 percent year-on-year. The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea was 650,468, down 43.7 percent year-on-year, but Chinese remain No. 1 in total number among foreign tourists visiting South Korea.
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