According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) on February 15, the number of South Korean visitors to Japan reached 7,140,200 last year, up 40.3 percent from the previous year's 5,090,302. The figure was the second largest number of foreign tourists to Japan after Chinese tourists and the increase in the number of Korean tourists to Japan was the largest among those of all countries.
It is analyzed that the Chinese government's economic retaliations against South Korea for the deployment of the THAAD System led South Korean tourists to choose Japan as their destinations instead of China.
Beijing sources recently said that the number of South Koreans who visited China in 2017 added up to 4.52 million, down 13 percent from 5.16 million in 2016, citing unofficial statistics from the South Korean government.
The total number of foreign tourists who visited Japan last year totaled 28,690,900, up 19.3 percent from 24,039,700 in 2016. The number of Chinese tourists to Japan increased 15.4 percent from 6,373,564 in 2016 to 7,355,800 last year.
Like South Korean tourists to China, Chinese tourists who visited South Korea last year plummeted too. According to the Bank of Korea, the number of Chinese tourists who visited South Korea last year plunged 48.7 percent year on year to 4.17 million.
"Only before March of last year, South Korea was a favorite tourist destination among Chinese tourists but the Chinese government’s retaliatory policies against South Korea spread anti-South Korean sentiments among some Chinese people and as a counteraction, South Korean tourists visited Japan more than China," said an official of the South Korean tourism industry.