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Visitors to Japan drop 93.6% in March as travel restrictions remain

People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk in Tokyo on April 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in March dropped 93.6 percent from a year earlier to 12,300 as travel restrictions remain in place to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, government data showed Wednesday.

    The year-on-year number marked the 18th consecutive month of decline, though it did rise 4,900 from February, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

    The month-on-month increase is apparently due to the arrival of those permitted to enter the country under "special exceptional circumstances" such as exchange students ahead of the new academic year, as well as partners of Japanese nationals.

    Compared to March 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world, the number of visitors who visited Japan plunged 99.6 percent.

    In March, visitors from China totaled 4,000, down 61.4 percent from a year earlier. Those from South Korea dropped 88.0 percent to 2,000, with visitors from India down 64.1 percent at 700.

    Japan continues to ban the entry of foreign travelers in principle amid rising COVID-19 infections now driven by more contagious variants.

    The data showed that 28,900 Japanese nationals left the country last month, down 89.4 percent from a year before.

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