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Economy

Foreign travelers start to return to Japan after natural disasters

Number recovers from earthquakes and typhoon, up 1.8% on year in October

Foreign tourists visit the famous Kaminarimon gate in Tokyo's Asakusa district. Visitor numbers are edging up after dropping due to a series of devastating natural disasters earlier this year. 

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tourism in Japan bounced back in October after the number of foreign visitors dropped the previous month for the first time since 2013 following major natural disasters, government data showed Wednesday.

The estimated number of visitors from overseas rose 1.8 percent from a year earlier to 2,640,600 in October, according to the Japan Tourism Agency, while the pace of the increase has not returned to double-digit levels seen before the disasters such as strong earthquakes and a typhoon.

By country and region, the biggest number of tourists came from China in October at 715,300, up 7.8 percent, followed by South Korea at 571,200, down 8.0 percent for the fourth consecutive month of decline, Taiwan at 379,600, down 9.9 percent, and Hong Kong at 169,500, down 0.9 percent.

The total number of foreign travelers to Japan in the January to October period reached 26,109,300, up 9.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.

If foreigners keep visiting the country through the end of the year on a pace equivalent to that of November and December last year, the figure would for the first time eclipse the 30 million milestone for annual visitors. Japan aims to welcome 40 million foreign visitors by 2020.

In September, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocked Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, killing more than 40 people and triggering an island-wide blackout, and a typhoon forced the temporary closure of Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the main international gateway by air to the western Japan region.

Earlier this year, a major earthquake jolted Osaka and torrential rains devastated wide areas of western Japan, killing about 230 people.

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