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Japan beer exports to S.Korea dry up amid hiccup in ties

The South Korean boycott campaign has seen Japanese beer exports to the country wiped out, while shipments of instant noodles and sake have also taken a hit

Not a single drop of Japanese beer was exported to South Korea last month, according to official figures on Thursday, as a boycott campaign against Japan over a historical dispute dries up demand.

Japanese beer shipments to South Korea stood at 7.9 billion yen ($72 million) last year, accounting for more than 60 percent of the country's global exports of the amber nectar.

But the finance ministry in Tokyo said exports had plunged to zero, as the two countries remain locked in a dispute over trade and Japanese war-time atrocities.

Already in September, year-on-year exports had fallen 99 percent, dealing a blow to Japanese brewers such as Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo.

A Kirin Holdings spokesman declined to comment, saying only: "We are watching developments."

Exports of Japanese instant noodles and sake to South Korea have also plummeted.

Ties began a downward spiral after a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate war-time forced labour victims.

This infuriated Tokyo, with Japan insisting the matter was settled in a 1965 treaty normalising diplomatic relations between the two countries, which included significant reparations.

The historic dispute morphed into a trade spat between the two market economies, as Japan removed South Korea from a so-called "white list" of countries that enjoyed streamlined export control procedures.

South Korea hit back with similar trade restrictions and a decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact, surprising analysts who thought defence ties would be immune from the diplomatic row.

Last week, however, South Korea decided against scrapping the military pact, in a 11th-hour U-turn, and the two countries agreed to hold a summit in China next month.

By AFP
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