TOKYO: The number of foreign travellers who visited Japan in the first six months of 2015 has hit a record high of 9.14 million, up 46% from the same period last year, official statistics have revealed.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), record numbers are also expected in the peak tourism month of July, as visitors from China and other countries take advantage of the weakened yen, relaxed visa regulations and expanded duty-free shopping options.
JTA commissioner Shigeto Kubo forecast that about 18 million foreign travellers will visit the country this year, up almost five million from the 13.41 million people who visited last year, Japan Times reported.
Despite the current political tensions between Beijing and Tokyo, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan more than doubled to 2.2 million in the first half of the year.
Tokyo's shopping districts have become accustomed to Chinese visitors going on shopping sprees known as "explosive buying" when they descend on department stores and snap up a wide range of products.
Following the Chinese, South Koreans made up the second-largest nationality to visit Japan this year. There were 1.82 million visitors from South Korea and another 1.79 million from Taiwan.
Despite concerns about China's economic downturn, JTA's Kubo said he did not think there would be any negative impact on organised tours from the country to Japan.
As well as the shopping opportunities on offer, visitors from across the region may also have other reasons for visiting.
A recent survey of 3,200 consumers in eight Asian nations by J Walter Thompson Asia Pacific revealed great admiration for Japan and Japanese products.
The survey also showed that consumers in ASEAN and India want to visit Japan more than any other country in the world.
Data sourced from Japan Times; additional content by Warc staff