More than one-fourth of Japanese municipalities have expressed concerns about possible future problems resulting from a surge in the number of foreign visitors to the country, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.
While the central government has seen the tourism boom in recent years as a catalyst for economic growth, the survey underscored confusion among local governments and people unfamiliar with treating guests from abroad.
In the poll, 465 municipalities, or 27 percent of the total, said they worry that problems may occur in the future, such as traffic jams, noise issues and trespassing on private property.
More than half of them attributed their concerns to the lack of personnel who speak foreign languages.
The city of Fukui said it has yet to establish measures to contact foreigners traveling there in case of emergencies.
Ninety-three municipalities, or 5 percent, said they have already faced problems due to foreign tourists. Many of them are located in areas where cruise ships arrive from abroad, including Tokyo and some prefectures in western and southwestern Japan.
Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture is one of them. With a growing number of cruise ships making port calls, the island government is struggling to address such issues as the lack of taxis and buses.
The number of affected cities, towns and villages could increase next year when Japan sees an influx of foreign visitors for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Meanwhile, 860 municipalities, or 50 percent, said they do not believe they will have problems, with many of them citing a relatively small number of foreign visitors.
The survey was conducted between May and July, covering 1,741 municipalities nationwide, 99 percent of which responded.© KYODO