Calls mount for boycott of Japan

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Calls mount for boycott of Japan


A photo of the Japan National Tourism Organization in central Seoul on Thursday, when Japan’s export restrictions on three key materials for making semiconductors and displays went into effect. [YONHAP]

People are swapping lists of Japanese brands to boycott following Japan’s economic retaliation against Korea over the forced labor issue.

Toyota, Lexus, Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba are among the big brands included on lists that are spreading via social media. Some people are even calling for Japanese members of K-pop bands to be kicked out, like Sana from girl group Twice.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced Monday that it will restrict exports of three materials essential to making semiconductors and displays. The new regulation requires Japanese vendors to seek approval every time they want to ship the materials: fluorinated polyimide, photoresists and hydrogen fluoride.

The decision, which went into effect yesterday, is seen as retaliation for Supreme Court rulings awarding damages to Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over Korea.

The boycott list covers a range of product categories from automobiles to alcoholic beverages. Some are demanding Koreans reconsider visiting, studying or working in Japan.

“How long do we need to put up with Japan?” one person wrote on an internet community. “It’s time we show Koreans’ patriotism through the power of unity.”

Some individuals even took the issue to the Blue House petition website. A petitioner on Monday said the Korean government should impose export restrictions or tariff retaliation on Japan.

“It’s time we show Japan, which doesn’t acknowledge their misdeeds during the colonial period, that Korea can respond to such arrogant actions with our own power,” the petitioner wrote.

The post received more than 18,100 agreements as of Thursday.

Some argue the boycott lists border on the childish.

“I understand the intention of the lists, but they do seem shoddy,” a commenter wrote on a blog. “They seem like a collection of all the Japanese brands people know.”

Companies like Daiso and convenience store chain 7-Eleven are feeling the heat.

Although Daiso is a Japanese brand, Daiso in Korea is operated by the local Asung Group. 7-Eleven also argues that despite a widespread perception that it is Japanese, it is “an American brand operated in 18 countries.”

“Lotte signed a deal with the U.S. company to operate the store chain in Korea. It’s not a Japanese brand,” stressed a spokesperson for 7-Eleven.

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