Foreign visitors to Japan reach record high of 8.6 million in 2010
Japan National Tourist Organisation stated the number of foreign visitors reached a record high of 8.61 million in 2010, a 26.8% year-on-year increase, due mainly to Tokyo Haneda Airport's return to full-fledged international service and the government's easing of restrictions on Chinese citizens to obtain sightseeing visas (Yomiuri Shimbun/Japan Today, 26-Jan-2011). The figure however fell short of the 10 million visitor target set by the Japan Tourism Agency. Reasons behind this include a diplomatic row with China and the yen's prolonged appreciation. By nationality, South Korean visitors were the largest group at 2.44 million (+53.8%), following by Chinese visitors at 1.41 million (+40.5%) and Taiwan at 1.27 million (+23.8%). This was followed by visitors from the US and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the number of tourists from France, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand reached record highs. Departures from Japan totalled 16.63 million, a 7.7% year-on-year increase.