It’s a dry argument for South Koreans with a taste for Japanese beer. Photo: AFP

Exports of beer from Japan to South Korea fell 99.9% year-on-year in September, Japan’s finance ministry said Wednesday, as a boycott spurred by a bilateral dispute drags on.

Relations between South Korea and Japan have fallen to new lows in recent months over long-running tensions on the issue of wartime forced labor.

The countries have implemented retaliatory trade restrictions, and in South Korea citizens have called for a boycott of Japanese goods.

Japanese beer had long been a local favorite, topping the import tables since 2010. But in August it fell to 13th place.

Exports to South Korea have slumped significantly in recent months, but the September figures show the trade has now dried up almost entirely.

Only US$5,400 worth of beer was shipped to South Korea in September, the finance ministry said, compared with $7.2 million worth in September 2018.

South Korea and Japan are both democracies and US allies, but their relations are heavily affected by Japan’s expansionism in the first half of the 20th century.

The recent deterioration was sparked by several South Korean court rulings demanding Japanese firms pay compensation over the use of forced labor in World War II.

Japan says all claims related to war-time issues were resolved in an agreement signed when the countries normalized ties.

The dispute has affected other sectors, including tourism, with South Korean visitors to Japan dropping sharply.

But the effect is expected to be balanced at least in part by an influx of tourists visiting Japan for the Rugby World Cup.


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