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TOKYO - Japan"s upper house of parliament on Wednesday passed a legislation requiring visitors to pay departure tax when they leave Japan next year.
Under the new legislation, visitors, with the exception of infants aged under two years old and those transiting within 24 hours, will be required to pay 1,000 yen (about $9) upon departing Japan.
The new departure tax, slated to be introduced on Jan 7, 2019, will be applicable to those departing Japan by airplane or ship.
Revenue generated from the new tax will be directed into the building of facilities and infrastructure to cope with the increasing numbers of tourists expected to visit Japan in the run up to and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo in 2020.
Government officials in Tokyo expect the income from the new tax will amount to some 6 billion yen ($56 million) between January and March 2019, and a prior legislation had been passed to ensure all revenue generated is allocated for projects related to tourism.
Japan, while enjoying an economic uptick, is still mired in deflationary pressure and has been increasingly looking towards its tourism industry to boost its economy.
The number of tourists, particularly from Japan"s closest neighbors, has risen significantly recently, owing in part to relaxed visa regulations and a comparatively weak yen bolstering the purchasing power of inbound visitors.
The Japan Tourism Agency at the end of March estimated the number of foreign visitors to Japan reached a new record for the month in February.
According to the agency, 2,509,300 tourists visited Japan in the recording month, marking a 23.3 percent jump from a year earlier, with visitors from China"s mainland topping the chart with a jump of 40.7 percent from a year earlier to 716,400 tourists.
South Korean ranked second with a visitors" number reaching 708,300, which is 18.1 percent more than the previous year.
Travelers from China"s Taiwan took the third spot with 400,900 visitors and those coming from Hong Kong totaled 178,500 in the recording month, the agency said.
The agency also noted that visits to Japan from Singapore and Malaysia in the recording period also posted significant rises on year, with numbers jumping 33.2 percent and 32.4 percent, respectively.