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Japan expected to see 9 million tourists next year

Japan expected to see 9 million tourists next year

A record nine million foreigners are expected to visit Japan next year, drawn both by the country's culture and the upcoming Group of Eight summit, Japan's largest travel agency said yesterday.
The number of visitors will rise by 700,000 from an estimated 8.3 million who came this year, led by a spurt in travelers from other Asian countries, the Japan Travel Bureau said in an annual report.
Japan takes over from Germany in the new year as president of the Group of Eight major industrial nations. It will host a series of meetings culminating in the G-8 leaders' summit from July 7 to 9 on the northern island of Hokkaido.
"Along with Japan's chairmanship of the G-8, Japan's presence in the news across the world is expected to contribute to the attractiveness of Japan's major cities, starting with Tokyo, along with Hokkaido," the agency said. It noted that Japanese pop culture, particularly manga comics, was winning a wider global following. It said that visitors would also be drawn next year to the 25th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland.
Japan has been promoting a "Visit Japan" campaign to double the annual total of visitors to 10 million by 2010 from 5.21 million in 2003. The campaign includes advertisements overseas and more foreign-language assistance in Japan. Critics, however, fear the effort would be set back by Japan's new security measure of fingerprinting all foreigners.
Tourism to Japan has also been boosted by the recent weakness of the yen, particularly in comparison to the soaring South Korean won, euro and British pound.