Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced on its website on 1 July, 2019 that Japan will revise regulations on export management of the Republic of Korea to tighten export restrictions on three items that are key materials for semiconductors. The semiconductor industry, which has been Korea’s key industry, is facing a sudden crisis. In response to the announcement, Japan cited “deeply damaged trust between South Korea and Japan” and “occurrence inappropriate issues surrounding export management.” But many people are speculating that Japan is retaliating against the Korean Supreme Court’s ruling for compensation for the Korean victims of Japan’s forced labor.
In response to this situation, Korean citizens began to boycott Japanese products by making and sharing boycott posters with the phrase, ‛I will not buy, sell, or go.’ The boycott, initiated by the individual choices of the Korean people, is characterized by the participation of many young people, and various age groups are also expressing their willingness to participate.
The boycott is expected to continue, not only because the will of the Korean people is more firm than ever before, but also because Japan passed a revised export law on 2 August, 2019, which excludes South Korea from the White List. Recently, a growing number of people are also seeking to participate in the boycott of Japanese products, looking at a more fundamental improvement in the hope of reducing their dependence on Japan.
Although Japan’s export regulations and the boycott in Korea are feared to have an adverse impact on Korea and Japan relations in the future, I hope the two governments improve the relationship through consultations. Furthermore, I think it would be meaningful if this boycott becomes a chance for Korean companies to reduce their dependence on Japan and make efforts in various fields to grow their own businesses and, as such, our country.