Japan's ambitious tourism goal rocked by Asia geopolitics
Nikkei -- Oct 17
Tensions with South Korea and the turmoil in Hong Kong are casting a shadow over Japan's goal of drawing an annual 40 million tourists by next year.

September figures released Wednesday showed a clear trend of South Koreans, long a mainstay of Japan's tourism industry, booking trips elsewhere.

Visitors from South Korea plummeted 58.1% from a year earlier, reflecting the frosty relations over history and trade. Only 201,200 South Koreans traveled to Japan last month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said. This follows a 48% decline in August.

Last month's drop-off is all the more glaring when considering the natural disasters that kept tourists away a year earlier. Typhoon Jebi flooded western Japan early that September, shutting down Kansai Airport near Osaka. An earthquake struck Hokkaido shortly afterward.

Lifting the number of annual visitors to 40 million has been a milestone for the nation, as it seeks to boost its stature as a tourism nation. In 2016, the government set out a goal of doubling annual visitors to 40 million by 2020 and increasing that further to 60 million by 2030.

Regions that count on South Korean tourism are feeling the bite. In the city of Fukuoka, the Beetle hydrofoil ferry service that connects to the South Korean city of Busan is suffering from a drastic downturn in traffic. Usership tanked 20% on the year in July, when bilateral tensions initially flared up after Tokyo announced restrictions on certain exports to South Korea. The decline reached 70% in September.

"There are absolutely no perceivable signs of recovery," said a representative at JR Kyushu Jet Ferry, which runs the hydrofoils.

News source: Nikkei
Feb 18
Japan's health ministry says 99 more people on board the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess have tested positive for the new coronavirus. (NHK)
Feb 18
As Japan ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the largest sporting events in the nation will be curtailed, with participation in the Tokyo Marathon limited to elite runners and wheelchair competitors, organizers said Monday. (Japan Times)
Feb 18
Visitors to Kyoto have plummeted, prompting a new series of ads showing sites like the Arashiyama bamboo forest totally devoid of people. (soranews24.com)
Feb 18
Popular boy band Arashi is calling off a concert scheduled for this spring in Beijing due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, their agent said. (Japan Times)
Feb 17
Americans began leaving a quarantined cruise ship in Japan on Monday to board chartered flights home as the number of new coronavirus cases diagnosed on the vessel jumped to 355. (Japan Times)
Feb 17
The coronavirus outbreak remains at an initial stage in Japan, an expert panel under the health ministry said Sunday, choosing not to raise the country's alert level that would have allowed for a more aggressive response. (Nikkei)
Feb 17
As Japan grapples with the expanding new coronavirus outbreak, six more people — five in Tokyo and another in Aichi Prefecture — tested positive Sunday for the deadly virus, local authorities said. (Japan Times)
Feb 17
Japan invented the zombie company: a once proud and innovative name that has lost its way and staggers from one crisis to another. But has Asia's second biggest economy now created the zombie privatization? (Nikkei)
Feb 17
The number of new coronavirus infections among passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo has risen by 70 to 355, the government said Sunday, while more domestic cases were also reported and experts warned the situation could worsen. (Kyodo)
Feb 17
The approval rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet stands at 41.0 percent, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday, down 8.3 points from the previous poll in January and marking the sharpest fall in nearly two years amid yet another cronyism scandal. (Kyodo)