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Japan's Uniqlo Being Hit By Consumer Boycott In South Korea

Japan's Uniqlo Being Hit By Consumer Boycott In South Korea
Japanese casual clothing chain Uniqlo's sale in South Korea has suffered significantly because of the boycott of the South Korean consumers of goods. This was announced by the company on Friday. This highlighted the growing rift between the two countries in the economic context. A trade spat is brewing between the two countries that has its roots a diplomatic row over alleged forced labor by Japanese companies of South Korean people during times of war.
The reaction of the consumers in South Korea against Japanese goods was sparked off after Japan last month decided to impose restrictions on the export of three crucial materials to South Korea that is critical for the production of semiconductors and smartphone displays. The consumer backlash has seen them boycotting a host of Japanese products ranging from beer to pens.
The current relationship between the two countries is at its worst in decades despite the countries being crucial allies of the United States in the South Asian region. The problems between the two countries has started last year ago after a South Korean court had order that Japanese companies should compensate South Korean citizens who were forced into labor by Japanese companies during those times that South Korean had been colonized by Japanese forces and during World War II.  
"We can confirm that there has been an impact on the sales in Korea," a spokeswoman for Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing said, declining to give figures.
The company spokeswoman said that the boycott by South Korean consumers however was not the reason behind the company recently deciding to close a store in Seoul. She added that the company had decided not to renew the contract for the property, where the store is located, with the owner after it had recently come to an end.
Japan had said that t export curbs had been imposed because of security concerns. However analysts see this move as the a relation by Japan of the South Korea court order against Japanese companies to give compensation for War time labor atrocities in South Korea.
As a further measure, South Korea has also been removed by Japan from its list of favored trading partners.
Apart from the auto and electronics companies from Japan that are known across the world, Uniqlo is one of the country’s more visible brands globally. There are almost 190 stores of the company in South Korea and the South Korean market accounts for about 6.6% of it’s annual revenue which is about 140 billion yen ($1.3 billion).

Christopher J. Mitchell

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