Despite earthquakes, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster, tourism grows in Japan

BY newsdesk  September 10, 2013 at 9:27 AM EST

Flickr/Francois Pelandeau

An estimated 12 million visitors a year are streaming in to Japan these days. That’s compared to about 7 million annual tourists before the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. That number will likely grow with the announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 summer Olympic games.

Tourists spending money in Japan could be good economic news for a country emerging from decades of stagnation and the financial one-two-punch of the tsunami and Fukushima disasters. But some worry that the estimated $8 billion Olympic price tag to get the country ready will leave some citizens behind. The BBC reports that about 100,000 people are still unable to go home after the nuclear disaster more than two-and-a-half years ago.

Tokyo is well-suited to host a world-class sporting event. The metro area is already home to more than 60 major sports stadiums and venues, but new designs are already rolling in for the 2020 games. Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid redesigned Japan’s national Olympic stadium, site of the 1964 Summer Games, for the 2020 Olympics. Computer image from Tokyo 2020.