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Foreign tourists in Japan set to hit record 30 million in 2018

The number of foreign tourists to Japan is set to rise for the seventh straight year and hit a record level of more than 30 million in 2018, the tourism minister said Friday.

“We are still at the midway point to hitting the goal (of 40 million visitors) but I am glad that the number is steadily growing,” Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said at a news conference. “We will strive to promote tourism as much as we can.”

The government is targeting 40 million foreign visitors by 2020, the year the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held. Japan logged an all-time high of 28.69 million foreign visitors in 2017, up 19.3 percent from the previous year.

Growth in inbound tourism continues despite a series of disasters hitting Japan this year. Kansai International Airport in Osaka and New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido were both temporarily closed in September following a strong typhoon and earthquake, respectively.

Japan has seen a continued rise in foreign tourists, from Asian countries such as China in particular, supported by eased visa requirements and an expanded tax exemption program.