South Korean small businesses threaten Japanese goods boycott

Featured Japan Korea - February 27th, 2013
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South Korean shop owners have threatened to boycott Japanese products in protest over Tokyo’s continued claim to a set of islands at the heart of a long-standing dispute.

The Small Local Sales Alliance, an association of South Korean grocers and corner shop owners, gave Tokyo an ultimatum to end its claim to the Dokdo Islands – known as Takeshima in Japan – or face national boycott of Japanese goods, its spokesman told AFP.

The association condemned an annual rally held by Japan last week to commemorate “Takeshima Day” which promoted its claim to the island chain in the Sea of Japan.

“We launched the action in protest at Japan’s ridiculous claim over our Dokdo Islands,” the spokesman said.

“It is an international provocation, which we can no longer tolerate,” the alliance said in a statement. “We will continue this boycott of all Japanese products until Japan repents its past wrongdoing and stops its sovereignty claims to Dokdo”.

The boycott campaign, South Korea’s first nationwide effort against Japanese products, is scheduled to start on March 1, reports the Financial Times. Members of the alliance were asked to stop selling brands such as Mild Seven cigarettes and Asahi beer. The boycott will also target other Japanese products, including Nikon cameras, Uniqlo clothes and cars made by Toyota and Honda.

With around 4 million members, the association’s protest could significantly hurt economic ties between the two neighbors.

Masaaki Kanno, chief economist at JPMorgan, downplayed the protest, saying it would not be as severe as that of China’s boycott.