|A group of activists promote the Boycott Japan campaign in Taean, South Chungcheong Province, Thursday. Yonhap|
By Baek Byung-yeul
A voluntary campaign to boycott Japan-made goods has been confirmed to be "effective" as Seoul's imports of consumer goods from Tokyo fell more than 10 percent in July from a year ago, according to data provided by the Korea Customs Service (KCS), Thursday.
The data showed Korea imported $74.6 billion worth of consumer goods in July, a 9 percent increase year-on-year, but the imports from Japan stood at $2.86 billion, a 13.8 percent decrease compared to July 2018 when it was at $3.32 billion. Compared to the previous month, the figure also declined by 5.8 percent.
By items, Japanese cars, which account for the largest portion of Japan-made consumer goods, plunged 34.1 percent year-on-year. Especially small cars with an engine size of between 1,500 cubic centimeters and 2,000 cubic centimeters fell sharply by 97.2 percent.
Items negatively affected by the "Boycott Japan" campaign include golf clubs, which saw a 38.1 percent drop year-on-year; beer with a 34.6 percent fall; and sake, or Japanese rice wine, with a 34.1 percent drop.
Imports of Japan-made writing supplies (25.9 percent), toys (27.5 percent), fishing gear (17.6 percent), motorcycles (76.3 percent) and cosmetic devices (65.9 percent) also saw sharp decreases.
Japanese beers suffered the most dramatic fall, as the KCS data showed that beer imports decreased by 98.8 percent during the first 10 days of August compared to the same period in 2018.
Koreans began voluntarily boycotting Japanese goods and services when Tokyo announced it would start to impose tougher restrictions on exports of high-tech materials on July 1 in reaction to Seoul's top court ruling in October 2018 that ordered Nippon Steel to compensate surviving South Koreans victims of wartime forced labor during World War II.
The anti-Japan sentiment grew even stronger when the Japanese government approved a bill to remove Korea from its whitelist of countries receiving preferential treatment in trade procedures on Aug. 2.
Kang Byung-won, a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party who received the data from the KCS, accused Japan of "economic invasion" saying its attempts to restrict exports bound for Korea will eventually backfire.
"The data confirmed that Korean people's voluntary campaign to boycott Japanese goods is not a storm in a tea cup and has enormous power to counter Japan's export control on Korea," Kang said.
Kang, who belongs to the National Assembly's Strategy and Finance Committee, warned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration, saying, "They should be aware of the power of Korean consumers who are trying to go against Japan's economic invasion."