Japanese Automakers Posted Sharper Sales Slump in South Korea Due to Consumer Boycott

Japanese automakers posted sharper sales slump in South Korea in August, industry data confirmed on Wednesday, hit by a consumer boycott of Japanese vehicles amid a wartime legacy between the countries.

Toyota Motor Corp and other Japanese carmakers noticed South Korean sales tumble 57% to 1,398 vehicles in August from a year earlier, steeper than the 17% fall in July.

Japan’s decision in July to tighten controls on exports of materials that South Korea makes use of to make semiconductors and show screens has indicated a shopper backlash in Korea, with shoppers boycotting Japanese products such as beer, clothes, vehicles, and tours to the neighboring nation.

Relations between the two U.S. allies had already soured over South Korean demands for Japanese compensation for South Korean forced laborers throughout World War Two.

Toyota’s South Korean gross sales fell 59% to 542 in August from a year earlier, whereas Honda Motor’s total sales tumbled 81% to 138.

Toyota’s Lexus was the top-selling Japanese model in South Korea, with sales reaching 603 vehicles in August, up 7.7% from the year-earlier, however down 39% from July.

The row has affected tourism and cultural ties, with Japanese and South Korean airlines scaling back services.

This week, the South Korean embassy in Tokyo mentioned it had received a threatening letter, accompanied by a bullet. “I’ve got a rifle, and I’m hunting Koreans,” the letter said, based on Kyodo news agency.