Japan issued 1.29 million visas to foreign nationals in 2022, up roughly 14 fold from the previous year after the country dropped COVID-19 border control measures, the government has announced.

While the total is still far from the pre-pandemic record high of 8.28 million in 2019, it marked the first increase in three years following the country's relaxation of COVID-19-related border controls this April, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The number of visas issued to enter Japan dipped sharply during the pandemic, falling to 1.12 million in 2020 when the country started tightening its border control measures and dropped to 90,306 in 2021, the lowest figure since comparable data became available in 1999.

In 2022, 186,577 visas, or 14 percent of the total, were issued in China, followed by Vietnam with 177,329, the Philippines with 134,607, South Korea with 104,937, Indonesia with 92,663 and the United States with 88,557.