Why has the number of tourists from China plummeted? Because of an incident I relate below that has spread across the Chinese Internet. The Chinese have come to see Japan as a dangerous place.
The news is a little old, but asahi.com ran a headline on Sept. 29, 2010, that said, "Bus of Chinese Tourists Surrounded by Propaganda Trucks." Here's some of the article:
More than 10 right-wing propaganda trucks gathered around a bus carrying Chinese tourists on Sept. 29 at around 4pm on a road in front of the Fukuoka City Hall in the city's Chuo district. A commotion ensued for about 20 minutes as the trucks would not move out of the bus's way. More than 10 men came out of the trucks to kick and punch the bus and yell at the Chinese to "Come out of there!" The police came and helped the bus pass through without anyone suffering any injuries.
The location of the commotion was the center of downtown Fukuoka, where many foreign visitors gather to shop, according to the city. The people on the bus were returning to their cruise ship, which was docked in Hakata Port. The tour had attracted about 1,300 tourists, the majority of whom were Chinese.
The propaganda trucks barred the bus from passing, lining up one after the other. Right-wingers yelled through megaphones that "the Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory" and other slogans. The men approached the bus, hooting and hollering. The Fukuoka prefectural police reported that on this day in 1972 Japanese-Chinese relations normalized. About 50 right-wing organizations throughout Kyushu, totaling about 160 men and about 60 propaganda trucks, descended on the Chinese consulate in Fukuoka City to protest China's stance in the Senkaku Islands collision. Part of the group started making trouble with the Chinese tourists as they passed by the city hall.
A 22-year-old engineering student from Shanghai who was visiting Japan for the first time with two of his friends was perplexed by the situation. "We're just travelers. We haven't done anything wrong," he said.
This news made it back to China and has been spread far and wide over the Internet. Many Chinese know of this incident. The Chinese people are starting to see Japan as a dangerous place. This is why there are fewer Chinese tourists coming here. Japan's travel industry is on the verge of crisis because of the extreme actions of Japan's right-wing groups. If this sort of thing continues, the theory that Japan can rebuild based on becoming a sightseeing destination is a dream beyond a dream.