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Japan visitors down 99.6% in May from 2019 on tough border controls

An area set up inside Narita International Airport where arriving passengers wait to get their coronavirus test results is seen in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on March 14, 2021. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in May was down 99.6 percent from the pre-pandemic year of 2019 as a result of tougher travel restrictions to prevent the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants, government data showed Wednesday.

    The figure rose to 10,000 from 1,663 a year earlier but remained at an extremely low level, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization, as Tokyo is maintaining the restrictions with few signs of infections abating.

    With the Tokyo Olympics set to start next month, Japan continues to ban the entry of foreign travelers in principle amid rising COVID-19 infections triggered by the variants.

    Japan has also tightened its border controls, extending quarantine periods for travelers who have recently been to certain countries affected by the variants.

    In May, visitors from China totaled 1,800, down 99.8 percent from 2019 at 756,365, according to the data. Those from South Korea and the United States were 1,000, respectively, followed by 600 from the Philippines.

    The data showed that 30,100 Japanese nationals left the country last month, down 97.9 percent from 2019.

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