South Korean tourists shun Japan over trade row
Japan Times -- Aug 22
The number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan fell last month to its lowest in nearly a year as visitors canceled travel plans amid deteriorating relations between the neighbors, Japanese government data showed on Wednesday.

Tourist arrivals from South Korea dropped 7.6 percent in July from the corresponding month a year earlier, to stand at 561,700, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

That was the lowest figure since September, when flooding from a typhoon closed Kansai airport and a strong earthquake struck Hokkaido, and provided the latest evidence of frayed ties.

The tourism agency pointed to a sluggish South Korean economy and the state of relations between the two countries as reasons for the decline in travelers from the neighbor. More South Koreans have been traveling to China and Vietnam, the government agency said in a release Wednesday.

South Koreans are boycotting Japanese products, from Asahi beer to Uniqlo clothing, in protest of Tokyo’s decision in early July to set curbs on exports of key high-tech materials to its neighbor.

“A lot of Korean tour groups are canceling trips to Japan,” said Hiroshi Tabata, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency.

“We are watching the situation closely.”

Japan cited security reasons for the export curbs, but Seoul regards them as retaliation after South Korean court rulings last year ordered Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced laborers. Tokyo says the issue was settled by past agreements.

The row has escalated, with both countries this month removing each other from favored-nation trading lists.

With the consumer boycotts sparking travel cancellations, carriers such as Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have started to cut flights and suspend routes to Japan.

News source: Japan Times
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