SEOUL, Jul. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — Eight out of 10 South Koreans are reluctant to buy Japanese-made products as public sentiment toward the neighboring country worsens following Tokyo’s move earlier this month to toughen rules on exports of semiconductor-related materials to South Korea, according to a survey released Friday.
The survey, conducted by pollster Gallup Korea and involving 1,006 adults aged 19 or older nationwide, found that 80 percent of respondents were reluctant to buy goods or services from Japan due to the Seoul-Tokyo trade row.
Ties between Seoul and Tokyo have worsened since South Korea’s top court last year ordered Japanese companies to compensate groups of South Koreans for wartime forced labor.
Japan announced on July 1 that suppliers will be required to seek approval before exporting to South Korea three materials needed to produce semiconductors and display panels, in apparent response to Seoul’s handling of the wartime forced labor issue.
Some civic and industry groups have called on South Korean consumers to participate in a boycott of Japanese products.
Out of all the respondents, 15 percent said they are not reluctant to buy Japanese, and the remaining 5 percent declined to answer.
The public pollster said the respondents who showed reluctance to buy Japanese goods included those encouraged to not buy them due to peer pressure as well as those actively taking part in the boycott.
Sentiment against buying Japanese goods was the majority in almost all age, gender and regional groups, according to the survey.
Fifty percent of the respondents gave a positive view of the government’s handling of the row, compared with 35 percent saying the government was not doing a good job.
More than 60 percent of those in their 30s and 40s were among the respondents who gave a positive view on the government’s efforts to cope with the situation, with 77 percent of people with progressive views siding with the government.
Respondents in their 60s or older said they do not think the government is well coping with the situation, with 68 percent of conservatives expressing a negative view.
People with middle-of-the-road political opinions were split: 48 percent had a positive view of the government’s job and 40 percent had a negative one.
Asked about which country will suffer more damage from the trade dispute, 54 percent said South Korea, while 27 percent pointed to Japan.
Eleven percent of the respondents said the two countries will be damaged about equally, and 8 percent declined to answer.
The survey, conducted Tuesday through Thursday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points and a confidence level of 95 percent.
On Thursday, a poll released by another pollster, Realmeter, said more than six in 10 South Koreans are taking part in a boycott of Japanese products amid growing public resentment over Tokyo’s export restrictions.
In the poll of 504 adults nationwide conducted Wednesday, 62.8 percent said they were participating in the anti-Japanese boycott, a steady rise from two previous surveys.