Japan saw an estimated 2,516,500 foreign visitors in October, up 0.8 percent from the same month in 2019, the first time the monthly figure has surpassed levels seen before the coronavirus outbreak, government data showed Wednesday.
The increase of visitors from Asia, Australia, parts of Europe, and North America, in particular, in an environment of a weak yen and resumed airline services contributed to the return of foreigners to Japan, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Visitor arrivals from January to October totaled over 19.89 million. The figure is on pace to reach 25 million for 2023.
The most arrivals in the reporting month came from South Korea at 631,100, more than triple compared with the figure in October 2019. Taiwan came in second at 424,800, up 2.7 percent.
Visitors from mainland China, which used to be the largest visitor group to Japan before the COVID-19 pandemic, stood at 256,300, down 64.9 percent, while they still ranked third in a list of arrival numbers by country and region in October.
After Beijing lifted restrictions on its citizens regarding group travels bound for Japan in August, the Japan Tourism Agency projected arrivals from mainland China would increase along with China's major holidays starting on Oct. 1.
But arrivals from China decreased about 70,000 from September.
The slump appears to have been caused by China's slow flight recovery as well as it falling behind in easing travel restrictions compared with many other countries.
Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, however, anticipates flights connecting the two neighbors will increase.
Arrivals from the United States rose 38.2 percent to 211,900 from four years earlier, while Germany marked a 17.6 percent rise to 30,900, the highest ever for arrivals from the country in a single month.
The number of Japanese nationals traveling overseas in October stood at 937,700, 43.6 percent less than the same month in 2019.