Japan’s study abroad tourism industry hit a record number of visitors in 2016, according to official data released Thursday by the Ministry of Tourism.
The number of Japanese visitors visiting abroad to study abroad rose 6.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, to 1.55 million, the ministry said in its annual report on study abroad.
The number of overseas visitors visiting Japan rose 5.3 percent from the previous year, to 4.3 million.
The total number of international visitors visiting in 2016 reached 1.62 billion, the highest figure in 20 years.
Japan ranked second behind the United States in the number of foreign visitors to study overseas, at 6.4 million, followed by the United Kingdom at 5.7 million.
Japanese students in China and India have been the most popular overseas visitors in recent years, accounting for more than half of all study abroad visitors, according the ministry.
“In the years of 2020 to 2022, the number for overseas visits by Chinese students rose 9.6 percent, while the number by Indian students rose 5 percent,” the ministry’s report said.
It said there were 688,500 international students in Japan in 2020, up 6.1 percent from 705,000 in 2019.
The number for foreign students in Taiwan rose 10.5 percent, to 3.6 million, but that is still below the 8.4 percent of the population in that country.
In 2016, the most common countries of residence for Japanese study tourists were the United Arab Emirates, the United Republic of Tanzania, South Korea, and Hong Kong.
A majority of foreign students study in China, with India accounting for two-thirds of all overseas students.
The ministry said the number and percentage of students studying abroad in Japan increased in 2017, while overseas study in the United Nations decreased by 1.4 percentage points.
By comparison, the study abroad population in Japan declined by 7.1 percentage points, the biggest drop since 2011.
Since the start of the academic year in 2020-21, Japan has received 665,400 overseas study visitors, or about 2.5 per cent of the total overseas study visitor population.
International students make up about 25 per cent to 30 per cent a country’s overall international student population.
The report said that since 2014, the foreign student population in the country has increased by more than 6,000,000.
Foreign students are most likely to come to Japan because of their family ties, study abroad activities, and/or work opportunities, the report said, while Japanese students are likely to choose a university or vocational school because of its reputation.
This year, foreign students are spending more time in Japan than they did last year, the second straight year of increase.
Among overseas students who have studied abroad in the past five years, a record 2.3 billion spent about US$6.7 billion in Japan, or more than one-third of all spending in the nation.