Japan saw an estimated 2,156,900 foreign visitors in August, which represents 85.6 percent of the level in the same month in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, government data showed Wednesday.
A recovery trend continued, with the rate surpassing 80 percent for the first time, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Visitors from mainland China totaled 364,100 last month, or 36.4 percent of the pre-pandemic level in 2019, increasing by about 50,000 from July but marking a decline of 63.6 percent from August 2019.
China, which lifted restrictions on Japan-bound group travel for its citizens on Aug. 10, ranked third in a list of arrival numbers from other countries and regions. The most arrivals came from South Korea at 569,100, up 84.3 percent from four years earlier, followed by Taiwan at 396,300, down 5.7 percent.
The Japan Tourism Agency anticipates that the full impact of China's lifting of restrictions will become evident after its major holiday season begins on Oct. 1.
But some Chinese tours to Japan have been canceled as Beijing has been opposed to Japan's discharge of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, which began in August.
An airline official said that even after the release of the treated water began, Chinese tourists continued making ticket reservations for traveling to Japan.
Tsuyoshi Kondo, a tourism consultant, said Chinese consumers remain interested in traveling to Japan and that the number of arrivals from China is likely to recover to pre-pandemic levels during the Lunar New Year holidays in 2024.
Overall foreign entries for August were down from July's 2,320,600. But the JNTO said the data tend to peak in July.
Meanwhile, the number of Japanese nationals traveling overseas more than tripled in August from a year before to 1,201,200, although it was 43.1 percent less than the same month in 2019.
The number of departures increased by over 300,000 compared to July.