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Japan tourism faces 80% drop as coronavirus threatens Abenomics

Economists question wisdom of heavy reliance on tourism for rural revival

Nakamise Dori, at the entrance to Tokyo's Sensoji Temple, is seeing relatively few visitors since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. (Photo by Shihoko Nakaoka) 

TOKYO -- Japan saw arrivals from overseas plunge 93% in March, a record year-on-year decline, as the novel coronavirus has kept travelers at home. Economists predict the number of foreign visitors to Japan will drop 30% to 80% for the full year, a serious setback for the government's hopes for tourism.

Its initial target was to draw 40 million visitors this year. Eased visa requirements and a big marketing push overseas have helped fuel a huge increase in overseas arrivals in the past decade. The tourism boom has been one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's biggest successes on the economic front.

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