Published on : Friday, August 23, 2019
The number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan went down last month to its lowest point with visitors cancelling travel plans amid deteriorating relations between the neighbors, as per Japanese government data.
Tourist arrivals from South Korea dropped 7.6% in July from the corresponding month a year earlier. It stood at 561,700, said the Japan National Tourism Organization.
That was the lowest figure since September, when flooding from a typhoon closed Kansai airport and a strong earthquake struck Hokkaido.
South Koreans are shunning Japanese products, from Asahi beer to Uniqlo clothing, in protest of Tokyo’s decision in early July restrict exports of key high-tech materials to its neighbor.
Hiroshi Tabata, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency said, “A lot of Korean tour groups are cancelling trips to Japan. 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 recompense wartime forced laborers. Tokyo says that the issue was settled by past agreements.
The row has now shot up, with both countries removing each other from favored-nation trading lists this month.
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.
Last year, 7.5 million South Korean tourists visited Japan, second only to travelers from mainland China.
“We are preparing plans to increase the number of South Korean tourists by working with airlines and travel agencies,” Tabata added.