Globally, Muslims make up the second largest religious group, with 1.8 billion people, or 24% of the world’s population. It is estimated that there will be 160 million Muslim travelers by 2020, and the figure is expected to increase to 230 million by 2026.
In recent years more and more Muslims are traveling to countries where they see the lifestyle as such that their religion is respected. In contrast to other people, Muslims tend to travel in larger groups and stay longer when they travel.
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The history of Islam in Japan is relatively brief in relation to the religion's longstanding presence in other nearby countries.
Today however, Muslims in Japan are well established, numbering somewhere between 100,000 to 300,000 - with approximately 10% being native. Additionally, there are about 100 established Mosques and Musallahs. Outside of Japan, Muslim countries heavily trade with the country, with bilateral trade standing at some $300 billion dollars; larger even than Japan's trade with the United States.
Islam in Japan has over 3 centuries worth of history, with the earliest Muslim settlers believed to have worked in the cities of Yokohama and Kobe during the reign of the Meiji.
As part of its preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan is actively preparing various facilities to welcome international guests from all over the world. One of them is prayer rooms at International Airports.
Less than a year ago I wrote about 17 prayer Rooms In Japan. Since then setting up prayer rooms in public places like, Shopping Centers and Sightseeing Areas is followed by other business sectors including Museums, Ryokans, Hotels and Restaurants.
The number of prayer rooms is growing in a proper speedy way so Muslim travelers also can explore new places without worrying about prayer times. In some places like Kansai International Airport even the space for male and female is separated so everyone can feel comfortable and solemnly pray.
Eager to attract more Muslim tourists, Japan’s Hokkaido Island wants to work with Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation "HDC" to make its capital Sapporo more "Muslim-friendly".
Nozomi Ota, who heads Sapporo’s Developing Local Cuisines in Observance with the Cultures of Muslim Tourists Project, said the city had begun to make changes to accommodate Muslim travelers by building more prayer rooms and publishing a list of Halal restaurants.
"We hope travelers can enjoy our food in Sapporo and feel safe. We will work with the HDC and fly some people to Malaysia to learn about the halal food", she told reporters in Chuo-ku here recently.