China’s relations with Japan have been far from cordial in recent years.
But apart from a dip in 2013—and only then mainly in group tours– Chinese tourists continue to flock to the Land of the Rising Sun in greater numbers than ever before.
In 2014, 2.4 million Chinese made the trip across the East China Sea, more than 80% more than in the previous year, according to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization. That was also around 70% greater than 2012, the previous peak in traveler traffic from China.
Experts say that proximity is a factor boosting Japan’s popularity—parts of China are closer to some areas of Japan than they are to Beijing.
Japan’s recently relaxed visa policies and more favorable exchange rates that make an afternoon’s shopping in Harajuku or Akihabara more affordable for Chinese, also play a role.
But so too, does an on-the-ground push in Shanghai spearheaded by the Japanese consulate.
“Getting lots of [Chinese] people to visit Japan is very extremely effective from a diplomatic standpoint,” said Hironori Ito of the Japanese consulate’s economic division in Shanghai. “So that’s why as a consulate we’re making efforts to promote tourism,” he said.
Typically, JNTO plays the lead role in attracting tourists to visit Japan, but in Shanghai, staff at the country’s consulate are taking that job to heart—arguably doing it with greater fervor than any other Japanese embassy or consulate around the world, he said.
Read more at The Wall Street Journal.