Japanese's beer shipments to S. Korea drop to zero amid boycott

Not a single drop of Japanese beer was exported to South Korea last month, according to figures published by Japan's finance ministry on Thursday, as a boycott campaign against Japan over a historical dispute dries up demand.

Japanese beer shipments to South Korea stood at 7.9 billion yen (72 million U.S. dollars) in 2018, accounting for more than 60 percent of the country's global beer exports.

South Korea was the biggest export destination for Japanese beer makers, such as Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo. Dealing a blow to these Japanese brewers, the year-on-year exports had fallen 99 percent in September, then plunged to zero in October, as the two countries remain locked in a dispute over trade and Japanese war-time atrocities.

A Kirin Holdings spokesman declined to comment, saying: "We are watching developments."

Exports of Japanese instant noodles and sake to South Korea have also plummeted.

Ties began a downward spiral after a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate war-time forced labor victims.

This infuriated Tokyo, with Japan insisting the matter was settled in a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries, which included significant reparations.

The historic dispute morphed into a trade spat between the two market economies, as Japan removed South Korea from a so-called "white list" of countries that enjoyed streamlined export control procedures.

South Korea hit back with similar trade restrictions and a decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact, surprising analysts who thought defense ties would be immune from the diplomatic row.

Last week, however, South Korea decided against scrapping the military pact, in a 11th-hour U-turn, and the two countries agreed to hold a summit in China next month.

(With input from AFP)