Japan is seeing a surge in foreign visitors amid a spat between neighboring Korea and China over the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here from the U.S. Japan's tourist numbers were nearly twice Korea's this year.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, a record 21.2 million foreigners visited Japan from January to September, up 18 percent from the same period last year. Of those, 5.22 million were Koreans, up 40 percent, and 5.56 million were Chinese, up 11 percent.
But the number of tourists who visited Korea over the same period stood at just 9.94 million, a 24 percent plunge. Only 3.19 million of them were Chinese, less than half the number seen last year.
Chinese tourists headed to Japan when China stopped travel agencies from selling cut-price package tours to Korea, and Koreans also went to Japan instead of China amid the hostile climate there.
The weak Japanese yen also made travel more affordable, while Tokyo eased visa rules to attract more tourists.
Increasing jitters over North Korean military provocations also damaged tourism to South Korea. The Korea Tourism Organization has tried to lure more Japanese and Southeast Asian tourists, but with little success so far.