Tension may still be high between Japan and China as their diplomatic ties are challenged by the territorial disputes they’re involved in but when it comes to tourists, this issue does not matter. Proof of this is the rise in the number of Chinese tourists that visited Japan this year to experience the Cherry blossoms.
The Japan National Tourism Organization recently reported that in March alone, Chinese tourist arrivals went up 80 percent. This translates to a total of 184,200 people from China visiting Japan starting in January 2014. For that period, some 79,000 group visas and 30,000 individual visas were issued to the Chinese. These figures are said to be the highest number of visas ever issued since the start of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration in 2012.
Chinese Confidence in Japan
The rise in the number of people from China is clear proof that the Chinese still love Japan, its products and culture. This positive trend was noted in July 2013 when an estimated 60,000 visas were issued.
Travelers from Hong Kong were also reported to have gained back their confidence in going to Japan after the massive earthquake in 2011. Last year, more than 740,000 people from HK visited Japan compared to the 480,000 figure in 2012.
The Chinese are known to have a love for traveling. Most often, they go in groups and explore neighboring countries in Asia such as Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. In Japan, they normally explore everything from shopping in the Ginza district of Tokyo to visiting the hot springs.
Travel experts agree that people from China don’t care much about their country’s political issues that they continue to travel wherever they want to go.
Relations between China and Japan have been challenged in recent years. The two nations have been in conflict over several issues. One pertains to the eight small Senkaku islands which the Chinese call Daioyu. Japan has been in control of the area since 1895 but China is claiming ownership as well saying it has been the fishing ground of their fishermen since the ancient times.
The U.S. has already stepped in and President Barack Obama, in his recent visit of Asian countries, has expressed full support to Japan, its ally, should an armed conflict ensues. With a bilateral agreement in place, Obama said his country is ready to protect Japan although he also remains hopeful that the dispute will be resolved peacefully among the parties involved.
On another issue, China has been critical of Japan’s wartime past in recent years insisting that the Imperial Army was responsible for the Nanking massacre that occurred during the Second World War. Japan has denied such mass killings and has since apologized for its other wartime atrocities. Staunch supporters have also backed Japan’s claims and have even launched websites where they posted details of the turn of events during the war and photos showing Japanese soldiers helping out Chinese refugees.
While no resolution is yet in sight, tourists from China will always find a way to visit and explore the beauty of Japan and its culture. This is one thing that will continue for the long term regardless of political issues that may arise.