The number of foreign visitors to Japan in May marked a record high for the month. Tourism officials attribute the increase to more travelers from mainland China due to the easing of visa requirements.
The Japan National Tourism Organization estimates that more than 2.77 million travelers came to the country last month. That's up 3.7 percent from a year earlier.
The number of visitors from mainland China, which accounts for the largest share, increased by 13.1 percent to 756,400.
In January, Japan's government had eased visa requirements for university students and people who have visited the country multiple times from mainland China.
Meanwhile, the number of visitors from South Korea decreased by 5.8 percent, while those from Taiwan dropped by 3.1 percent.
Officials say expensive airfares and accommodation fees may have led to the decrease. Prices soared as many Japanese had leisure trips during the rare 10-day holiday from April 27 to May 6.
The head of Japan Tourism Agency, Hiroshi Tabata, says efforts must be made to achieve the government target of 40 million foreign visitors in 2020.
He also says the Rugby World Cup Japan, which starts in September, is likely to draw first-time visitors to Japan. He says the agency will work to make them feel like returning to the country by promoting its attractiveness.