While Japan and South Korea are at odds with each other following a court battle over war reparations and a subsequent trade boycott, Taiwan is emerging as a smiling winner. Instead of visiting each others’ countries, Japanese and Korean tourists have been booking getaways to Taiwan.
In September, 45,000 more tourists from the two countries arrived in Taiwan – a combined increase of 19 percent compared to September 2018. Visits of South Koreans to Japan have declined the most. In September, 270,000 fewer Koreans arrived in the country, a number almost 60 percent lower than one year earlier. September was the month with the biggest tourism losses so far. South Korean visitor numbers to Japan were down 48 percent in August (year-over-year) and 7.6 percent in July.
While the number of Japanese visitors to South Korea is still growing, it is doing so at a much slower rate. In September, these visits increased by only 1.3 percent compared with a 35 percent growth rate as recently as April. According to the South China Morning Post, the trade spat between Japan and South Korea should also be benefiting the Taiwanese semiconductor industry. Instead of buying technology products from each other, Japanese and Korean firms are expected to turn to Taiwan for their supply to an increasingly large degree.
In July, Japan had started curbing its export of supplies for the LED and semiconductor industries to South Korea, allegedly in response to South Korean courts working on getting reparations from the country for World War II forced laborers and sex slaves. In summer, South Koreans had already started boycotting Japanese products. In September, imports of Japanese beer to South Korea were down 99.9 percent.