The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan from January to November hit a record high for the 11-month period, but it remains highly unlikely that the Japanese government’s annual target of attracting 10 million tourists will be achieved, a Japan National Tourism Organization survey showed Wednesday.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan during the reporting period surged 29.2% from the corresponding period last year to 7,963,000, according to the organization.
To achieve the government target of 10 million tourists in 2010, Japan would need to attract over 2 million tourists in December. But considering that the largest number of tourists for a single month this year was 878,582 in July, it is highly unlikely that the target will be reached.
‘‘It is extremely difficult’’ to achieve the target, Hiroshi Mizohata, the head of the organization, said at a press conference. ‘‘Contributing factors are a fall in the number of tourists from China and Hong Kong after the collisions between Chinese and Japanese vessels (in disputed waters) and the yen’s appreciation.’‘
Still, it is almost certain that the number of foreign visitors to Japan this year will surpass the record high of 8.35 million marked in 2008.
The number of Chinese visitors has slowed in the face of bilateral tension triggered by the maritime collisions near the disputed Senkaku Islands in September, with a 1.8% year-on-year decline in October and a 15.9% fall in November.
‘‘The downtrend (in Chinese visitors) is expected to continue for some time,’’ an organization official said. ‘‘We will run promotional campaigns ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday season in February.’‘
In November alone, the number of foreign visitors to Japan rose 12.4% to 635,000, marking the 13th consecutive month of growth.