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Japan to expand language assistance, free Wi-Fi for foreigners

Foreign tourists pose for a photo in the Dotonbori district, Osaka, in this Oct. 1, 2018 file photo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government said Friday it plans to provide multilingual information and free Wi-Fi access on 300 public transport routes as it steps up efforts to boost inbound tourism.

As a first step, foreign language support and free Wi-Fi will be made available on 100 local bus and train routes running between airports and popular tourist sites by March 2020, with the government subsidizing roughly half the cost.

Special liaisons will also be posted at 87 tourist spots, including UNESCO World Heritage sites and national parks, to assist existing English tour guides.

The government also plans to install equipment to aid in the streamlining of immigration screening processes at Haneda airport, Hakata port in Fukuoka Prefecture and Hitakatsu port in Nagasaki Prefecture by March 2020.

These efforts are aimed at achieving the nation's stated goal of attracting 40 million foreign visitors by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In 2018, a record 31.19 million foreign tourists visited Japan, up 8.7 percent from the previous year.

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