The number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2022 sharply recovered and grew 15-fold from the previous year to 3.83 million after the easing of border controls imposed to counter the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Wednesday.

The number was still 88 percent lower than the record high of 31.88 million in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the Japan Tourism Agency said.

A further recovery in the number of foreign arrivals will likely depend on the return of visitors from mainland China, which until earlier this month largely restricted overseas travel under its strict "zero-COVID" policy.

People walk in Tokyo's Ginza area on Jan. 18, 2023. (Kyodo)

Japan has also strengthened its border controls for those traveling from China to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after cases have exploded in the East Asian neighbor following the easing of its restrictions.

By origin, the largest number of travelers in 2022 came from South Korea at 1.01 million, followed by 331,100 from Taiwan, 323,500 from the United States and 284,100 from Vietnam.

Japan scrapped coronavirus testing requirements in October last year.

The number of visitors to Japan in December alone was 1.37 million, significantly increasing from 12,084 a year earlier.

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