South Korea calls for Japan boycott

South Korean merchants protest outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Friday, trampling boxes symbolizing Japanese products during a rally to denounce Japan curbing the export of high-tech materials to South Korea. (AP)
Updated 06 July 2019

South Korea calls for Japan boycott

  • Dispute over compensation for forced labor during World War 11 strains ties between the US allies

SEOUL: Calls in South Korea for a boycott of Japanese goods in response to Tokyo’s curbs on the export of high-tech material to South Korea picked up on Friday, as a dispute over compensation for forced wartime labor roiled ties between the US allies.

It is the latest flashpoint in a relationship long overshadowed by South Korean resentment of Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula, in particular South Korean “comfort women,” a Japanese euphemism for women forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

Japan apologized to the women as part of a 2015 deal and provided a 1 billion yen ($9.4 million) fund to help them.

Advocacy groups for the women have criticized the fund and South Korea dissolved it on Friday, despite Japan’s warnings that such action could damage ties.

“This is totally unacceptable for Japan. We’ve made stern representations to the South Korean side,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said in Tokyo.



• $54.6bn South Korea imported $54.6 billion worth of goods from Japan in 2018, and paid for $11.5 billion worth of its services.

The bitterness over the forced labor issue could disrupt global supplies of memory chips and smartphones.

Japan said on Monday that it would tighten restrictions on the export of high-tech materials used in smartphone displays and chips to South Korea. The curbs took effect on Thursday, fueling South Korean calls for retaliation.

Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. — the world’s top memory chipmakers, and suppliers to Apple and China’s Huawei Technologies — could face delays if the curbs drag on.

“A boycott is the most immediate way for citizens to express their anger,” said Choi Gae-yeon of the activist group Movement for One Korea, that staged protests in front of a Japanese car showroom and a retailer in Seoul this week.

“Many people are angry at the attitude of the Japanese government,” she said.

The row over forced labor exploded last year when a South Korean court ordered Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to South Korean plaintiffs.

Japan maintains that the issue was fully settled in 1965 when the two countries restored diplomatic ties, and has denounced the ruling as “unthinkable.”

Nearly 27,000 people had by Friday signed a petition posted on the South Korean presidential office website calling for a boycott of Japanese products and for tourists not to visit. The government must respond to a petition that gets 200,000 signatures in a month.

Some Korean social media users posted “Boycott Japan” messages and shared a link to a list of Japanese brands that could be targeted, including Toyota Motor and Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo.

Toyota’s South Korean unit declined to comment, and Fast Retailing’s South Korean unit did not have an immediate comment.

“Japan boycott movement” was among the most searched-for terms on South Korea’s main online search engine Naver.

A South Korean actor on Thursday deleted photographs that he posted on social media of a visit he made to Japan after online criticism.

Tourism-related shares fell this week due to concern about reduced demand for travel to Japan. Tour agency Hana Tour fell 3.4 percent on Thursday before paring losses on Friday.

South Korea imported $54.6 billion worth of goods from Japan in 2018, and paid for $11.5 billion worth of its services.

South Korea exported $30.5 billion in goods and $8.7 billion in services to Japan in the same year, according to South Korean customs and central bank data.

Saudi female student pilot aims high with flying ambitions

Updated 19 November 2019

Saudi female student pilot aims high with flying ambitions

  • Amirah Al-Saif is among the first batch of 49 female students

DUBAI: Saudi women aiming to emulate Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s feat, the Kingdom’s first female commercial pilot, now have that opportunity as Oxford Aviation Academy has opened its doors for them to take flying lessons and earn their licenses.

One those women raring to earn her pilot wings is 19-year-old Amirah Al-Saif, who enrolled in the aviation academy to fulfill her dream of flying for the Kingdom’s national carrier Saudi Airlines (Saudia).

“They have been very supportive of us females,” Al-Saif, who hails from Riyadh, told Arab News at the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow, when asked about her experience at the academy.

Al-Saif is among the first batch of 49 female students, with six of them already in ground school, expected to receive their licenses by the start of 2021 after a grueling course that requires them to first learn English, Mathematics, Physics and other basic knowledge subjects.

She is also the first in the family to have an interest in the aviation industry.

Student pilot Amirah Al-Saif, right, who hails from Riyadh, is the first in the family to have an interest in the aviation industry. (Supplied)

Those who pass the foundation program can then move on to ground school for practical lessons and ideally graduate in two years with three licenses: the Private Pilot License, Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot License.

Al-Saif considers herself lucky since she was not constrained take courses abroad for her pilot training, unlike Al-Maimani who had to leave the Kingdom to receive her license, as well as wait for a long time before being eventually hired by Nesma Airlines.

The flying school is located at the King Fahd International Airport in Dammam and is an authorized branch of Oxford Aviation Academy based in the UK.

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