Business

Boycott of Japanese beer sees shipments to South Korea plunge to zero

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Exports of Japanese beer to South Korea, the domestic industry’s biggest overseas market last year, fell to virtually zero in October as Korean consumers shunned products from their Asian neighbor amid a dispute over wartime history.

Last month’s figure follows a 99 percent year-on-year plunge in beer exports in September and a 92 percent decline in August, data from Japan’s Finance Ministry showed Thursday.

Last year, South Korea was the biggest export destination for Japanese beer-makers, such as Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., Kirin Holdings Co. and Sapporo Holdings Ltd. Japan shipped beer worth ¥800.34 million ($7.3 million) to the country in October last year, according to the data from the Finance Ministry.

Boycotts of Japanese brands by South Korean consumers have hit companies in other sectors, too, including Fast Retailing Co.’s Uniqlo and carmakers, after Tokyo introduced tightened controls on exports to South Korea of certain high-tech products in July, a move Seoul saw as unwarranted and politically motivated.

The two countries reached a last-minute deal last week to rescue an expiring military intelligence-sharing pact, but it remains unclear whether the two can end a fight that has spilled over into trade, tourism and security arrangements. Relations between the two have been in a tailspin since the South Korean Supreme Court ruled last year that a Japanese company must compensate Korean workers conscripted during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the peninsula.

Japan says all such claims were settled under a 1965 treaty, while the South Korean courts have said that the agreement did not cover emotional pain and suffering.