The Boycott Japan campaign is one of the most easily accessible issues these days. Japan excluded Korea from the White List and declared a trade war on July 1, 2019. Accordingly, many upset Koreans started to not buy Japanese products and canceled trips to Japan. By the way, do you know why this situation is happening?
After the Second World War, Japan surrendered and left Korea. To regulate their relationship, Korea and Japan signed an agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and the Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Japan in 1965. According to the agreement, Japan gave five billion dollars for compensation and both countries agreed that all the problems had been settled. Korea also established The Korean-Japan Healing Foundation with a one-billion-yen fund from Japan in 2015. However, Japan has kept visiting shrines and making remarks that praise Japanese imperialism. Therefore, the Korean government disbanded The Korean-Japan Healing Foundation without notice. After this, Japan and Korea started to build anti sentiment to each other. At last, the conflict has peaked. The Korean court sided with victims of forced labors to pay indemnities on October 30, 2018. This made Japan annoyed because Japan was in a position that everything was settled according to the agreement which was signed in 1965. On the other hand, Korea interpreted that the agreement was not applicable to individuals because it has been just a promise between countries.
Now do you understand why the situation happened? As much as it directly affects our lives, people have different opinions about it. There are many views of the Japan Boycott Campaign. I interviewed three KU students about the Japanese boycott.
1.Kim Tae-hui from the Department of English Education
“I think we ought to participate in the boycott as Koreans. Actually, there is a case in another country. In the past, Germany had committed the Holocaust during World War II, but did not apologize. The Jews then angrily launched a campaign to boycott German products to receive a genuine apology from Germany and eventually Germany gave a genuine apology and reflection. On the other hand, South Korea has not yet received a genuine apology from Japan. As in the case of Jews and Germany, we should receive Japan's apology through non-violent ways such as a sustained boycott. Therefore, like other people, I am participating in the boycott. Usually, I used to use Japanese school supplies, but after the boycott started, I purchase Korean products. I have never worked hard for Korea like the independence movement, so I am proud that I am doing something that would help Korea through this boycott. Nevertheless, aside from the boycott, I think it is right to hold the arbitration committee requested by Japan. It may be unreasonable and disagreeable from the current administration's point of view. However, I think it should be dealt responsibly, because it was already a treaty between countries in the past.”
2.Kim Su-gueong from the Department of Food and Nutrition
“I think the reason why Koreans are so involved in the Japan Boycott Campaign is that Japan did not sincerely apologize for its colonization of Korea. Therefore, the boycott campaign can get the best validity. Whenever a country faces a crisis, the government takes the primary defense diplomatically. However, if this is not done well, I think people should unite and take the lead in solving the problem. The voluntary participation of the people, such as the Donghak Peasant Movement and candlelight vigils, enabled the nation to overcome many crises in the past. Therefore, I am also trying to boycott, but it is not easy. In my opinion, Japanese products such as cosmetics and kitchenware are superior to Korean products in quality and price. Thus, it was a hassle and a financial burden to find products that has similar qualities with Japanese products. Although I experienced patriotism through boycotts, I think there is a need for government support for businesses and researchers. If we take this opportunity to reinterpret Korean technology to make more sophisticated and durable products than the Japanese, I think it will greatly increase the people’s trust of Korean products.”
3.Kim Hyun-ji from the Department of English Education
“There has always been a diplomatic friction with Japan because of the Japanese occupation. Moreover, the Japanese economic retaliation caused the boycott. This dealt a heavy blow to companies with Japan as their main clients. However, I do not think it is right for the boycott to lead to an emotional fight among the people from a political fight. Some argue that politicians should counteract Japan's handling of the issue that led to economic retaliation, but I think we should be neutralized. On the global scale, the Japanese market is in a high position and Japanese economic retaliation can cause a big blow to Korea. In addition, while Japanese companies have a large presence in Korean markets, Korean companies account for a small portion of Japanese markets. Therefore, Korea needs to strengthen our domestic self-reliance and strengthen our economic status. In my case, I am using as many Japanese products as necessary. Such as, I use Japanese cameras, which account for 90% of the Japanese market share and Japanese medicine that fits my body. As such, I think it is right to be as flexible as needed rather than unconditionally boycotting Japanese products.”