South Korean Visitors to Japan Plunge by Half Amid Trade Spat

(Bloomberg) -- The trade spat between Japan and South Korea caused Korean visits to its neighbor to plunge by almost half in August, dragging down overall arrivals to Japan for only the second time in six years.

Tourists from South Korea, which normally make up about a quarter of visitors to Japan, plummeted 48% to 308,700 people, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. The total number of foreign visitors to Japan fell 2.2% from a year earlier to 2.52 million.

Japan imposed export controls on South Korea in July that led to a flurry of reactions, from reciprocal trade curbs to a self-imposed consumer boycott. The conflict is exacerbating already fragile relations, and having impacted sales of Japanese beer and cars in Seoul, is now taking a toll on Japan’s booming tourism industry.

South Korean Visitors to Japan Plunge by Half Amid Trade Spat

The surge in overseas visitors since in recent years has been one of the nation’s brightest economic success stories. Ambitious government targets were swiftly broken as word of Japan as a tourist destination spread worldwide.

With both Korean and Japanese airlines cutting flights between the two countries, the trade spat is likely to continue to impact arrivals. The spat may even undercut the 2020 Olympics, with Korea raising concerns over everything from radiation to imperial-era Japanese flags at the event. However, the Rugby World Cup, which gets underway in Japan on Friday, is likely to buoy arrivals for September and October.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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