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5 Jul, 2019 21:15

South Koreans urge boycott of Japanese goods in row over WWII forced labor

South Koreans urge boycott of Japanese goods in row over WWII forced labor

Demands in South Korea for a boycott of Japanese goods are picking up steam after Tokyo imposed new trade restrictions on high-tech exports, rekindling a dispute over compensation for victims of historical war crimes.

By Friday, over 28,000 South Koreans had signed a petition on a government website calling for a boycott of Japanese products and tourism, and asking the government to “respond with force” to Tokyo’s new trade restrictions on exports of materials used to make smartphones and other electronics.

Relations between the two countries have long been marred by memories of Imperial Japan’s decades-long occupation of the Korean peninsula that ended in 1945 – in particular the use of forced labor and “comfort women” for military brothels.

Also on rt.com S. Korea dissolves Japan fund for WWII sex slaves

Last year, a South Korean court ordered two Japanese firms to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to victims of forced labor, a move stridently opposed by Tokyo, which maintains that the labor dispute was settled when the two countries revived diplomatic ties in 1965. The contested court ruling ultimately prompted the new Japanese trade limits, imposed on Thursday.

In addition to the ramped up pressure for boycotts, on Friday Seoul responded to the trade cuts by dissolving a fund established in 2015 to compensate South Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during World War II, prompting harsh words from Tokyo. It is unclear what will happen to the remaining money in the fund.

Also on rt.com Seoul ‘to respond firmly’ as Japan restricts exports to S. Korea over WWII labor row

The standoff between the two US allies risks escalating into a trade war that could severely disrupt global electronics supplies. South Korea imported some $54 billion in Japanese goods last year, according to central bank data.

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