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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Record Number of Tourists Visiting Japan Due to Weak Yen Currency

TOURISTS FLOCKING TO JAPAN - Record Number of Tourists Visiting Japan Due to Weak Yen Currency

The number of foreign visitors surged 29.4 percent in 2014 from the previous year to an estimated 13.41 million, a record high for the second straight year, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Tuesday.

Factors behind the increase included the cheaper yen and easier visa conditions for citizens of some Southeast Asian nations. Shoppers also benefited from an expanded list of items that could be purchased duty-free.

According to a report by the Japan Tourism Agency on Tuesday, the amount of money spent by foreign visitors in 2014, including for shopping and accommodations, soared 43.3 percent to a record ¥2.03 trillion.

The number of visitors topped the 10-million threshold for the first time in 2013, when 10,363,904 people visited Japan.

Tourism minister Akihito Ota said the number of visitors in 2015 is expected to top 15 million, partly on the back of the weaker yen.

Ota stressed that the government will beef up measures to increase the number even further, such as improving Internet access around the country, in a bid to attain its goal of attracting 20 million visitors in 2020, the year of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.  A weaker yen made shopping in Japan more affordable for overseas visitors, though for more records to be broken, several issues still need to be addressed. The government has set a goal of increasing the number of foreign tourists to 20 million by the time the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are held in 2020.

Products in the store would be not only except from consumption taxes, but also import duties and alcohol and tobacco taxes. The Kyushu District Transport Bureau is promoting “wedding photo tours” in the region, which are popular among newlyweds from Hong Kong. East Japan Railway Co. President Tetsuro Tomita wants to encourage tourists from overseas to visit the Tohoku region.

Fukushima radiation risks in Japan are still alarmingly high almost four years after the disaster. In fact, the situation has only gotten worse as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RadNet has detected heightened radiation levels at monitoring sites all across North America. It has now been announced that radioactive water that’s collected at the plant has to be decontaminated and dumped into the ocean. We take a look at the radioactive groundwater and the safety threat it poses, in this Lip News clip with Gabriel Mizrahi.

Japan’s new defense white paper has done little to mend fences with Beijing, with the Chinese government complaining that its Asian neighbor is using the “China threat” to justify a bigger defense budget. When about a month ago it was revealed that Japan’s shadow economic advisor is none other than Paul Krugman, we said it was only a matter of time before the Japanese economy implodes.

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