Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

  • Photo/Illustraion

Despite violent earthquakes, typhoons and sweltering summer heat that wreaked havoc across Japan this year, the number of foreign tourists coming here continues to set record highs.

The number of foreign travelers visiting Japan this year topped 30 million for the first time as of Dec. 18, a threefold increase from 2013.

Wang Shao-yu, 39, became the 30 millionth visitor to Japan when she arrived at Kansai International Airport from Taiwan on her 12th trip to the country.

“Japan is the country I want to continue traveling to throughout my life,” said Wang.

The spike in the number of foreign visitors to Japan in the last five years has been spurred by the rise in income levels in Asian countries and regions as well as the expansion of low-cost carrier airline routes.

Spending by foreign visitors, symbolized by their voracious purchasing known as “bakugai” in Japan, has also accelerated since 2015.

Tourist spending topped 4 trillion yen ($35.62 billion) for the first time since records began being kept in 2010, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

“We will spare no pains to meet our goal of raising the level to 40 million foreign tourists by 2020 by enhancing the environment to accept foreign travelers as well as improving tourism resources,” transport minister Keiichi Ishii said during a ceremony at Kansai airport on Dec. 18.

In 2003, when only 5 million foreign tourists visited Japan annually, the government initiated the Visit Japan Campaign to double the number.

Since then, Japan has tapped into the ballooning global tourism demand by relaxing visa requirements and taking other measures.