(Asahi: October 24, 2015 – p. 4)
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga delivered on Oct. 23 a speech in Tokyo in which he said “we want to set up a system under which we will draw up a new goal for increasing the number of foreign tourists under the leadership of the prime minister.” The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Aba intends to launch a new panel composed of relevant cabinet members and experts and set a new goal.
The government has set a goal to increase foreign visitors to 20 million in 2020. On account of the weak yen and the relaxation of visa requirements, this year the number of foreign tourists exceeded in mid-September the figure for last year (13.41 million), and topped 15 million on Oct. 9. Since the government is now certain to attain its goal before 2020, it has judged it necessary to set a new goal. The government intends to look into ways to attract foreign visitors in places other than tourist sites on the beaten path.
In his speech, Suga said: “We will consider incentives, including taxes,” as measures to strengthen the competitiveness of farmers to be affected by the broad agreement on the TPP free trade pact with an eye on intensive agriculture. By such measures as stepping up taxation on fields and rice paddies that have been abandoned and are no longer cultivated, the new government panel will look for ways to lease unused land to motivated farmers. (Slightely abridged)