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20:10 15 February 2017

Foreign visitors to Japan hit 2nd-highest monthly total in Jan.

TOKYO, Feb. 15, Kyodo

The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in January soared 24.0 percent from a year earlier to 2,295,700, marking the second-highest monthly figure after last July, a government body said Wednesday.

Visitors mainly from China and Taiwan flocked to Japan during the Lunar New Year holiday season, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The January figure came close to the record monthly total of 2,296,451 logged last July.

A rise in international flights and port calls by cruise ships from abroad also boosted tourism to Japan.

"We will continue efforts to enhance accommodation and sightseeing resources in local areas so that we can maintain the pace of increase and shore up" economies in those areas, said Akihiko Tamura, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency.

By country and region, visitors from China ranked top at 630,600, up 32.7 percent, followed by South Korea at 625,400, up 21.5 percent, and Taiwan at 350,800, up 9.3 percent.

Referring to the sharp growth rates of visitors from Malaysia and Indonesia, which topped 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively, Tamura said Japan's tourism promotion efforts are producing a result. "There is still a room for further growth."

==Kyodo

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