Japanese imports still way down

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Japanese imports still way down

Korea’s imports of key consumer goods from Japan fell for a seventh consecutive month in January, as a boycott of Japanese goods persists amid the two countries’ monthslong feud over their shared wartime history, according to economic data released Tuesday.

Imports of consumer goods from Japan dipped 35.9 percent from a year earlier in January to $193.6 million, data compiled by the Korea Customs Service showed. The statistics were released by Rep. Kim Chung-woo of the ruling Democratic Party.

A growing number of Koreans have been avoiding Japanese products since Tokyo tightened controls on exports of three high-tech materials to Seoul last July.

The export curbs were seen as an apparent retaliation against Korean court rulings over Japan’s wartime forced labor.

Last June, that figure had increased 18 percent on year to $348 million, indicating the boycott movement was the main factor behind the decrease.

In December, Tokyo partially lifted curbs on exports to Korea of photoresists in an apparent goodwill gesture ahead of their summit, which ended with no notable progress.

Imports of beer nosedived a whopping 98.2 percent on year to $126,000 in January. A month earlier, the figure dropped 45 percent.

Japanese beer products have a primary target of Korea’s so-called “Boycott Japan” movement, as consumers switched Chinese and Belgian beers.

Korea’s purchases of Japanese passenger cars also plunged nearly 70 percent last month from a year earlier, to $21.9 million, the data showed.

Other major losers were cigarettes, toys and processed foods, which decreased 72.9 percent, 57.4 percent and 54.7 percent, respectively.

In 2019, Korea’s overall exports to Japan slipped 6.9 percent to $28.4 billion. Imports from its neighbor, on the other hand, fell by a wider margin of 12.9 percent to $47.5 billion, making Tokyo the bigger victim in the trade spat.

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