July 15 (UPI) -- South Korean associations representing grocery and convenience store chains say they are banning 100 Japanese items from their shelves as a trade dispute grows between the two countries.
Members of the Korea Mart Association said at a press conference on Monday outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul they will stop selling popular Japanese merchandise, including beer and cigarettes, local news service Money Today reported.
According to representatives of Korea Small Business Owners' Federation who spoke at the same briefing, some, not all, stores are to participate in the boycott, including 3,200 South Korean convenience stores, 1,000 supermarkets and another 1,000 "miscellaneous" retailers.
The South Korean business associations said sales are expected to decline by about 3 percent "even if consumers buy substitute items." They added the move is a response to Japan's response to the activism of Korean forced laborers recruited during World War II.
"In spite of the risks, we are engaging in the boycott of Japanese products in order to not forget a disgraceful history and to condemn Japanese brutality," representatives said.
During the briefing, the representatives disposed various Japanese beverages, including Asahi beer and Pocari Sweat, a sports beverage, into a trash bin to make their point.
The decision to ban Japanese goods is a response to Tokyo's trade restrictions that target South Korea's tech exports.
The policy has inflamed anti-Tokyo feelings in South Korea, where civic groups have said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not sincerely apologized for his country's wartime past.
On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called a meeting of his aides and warned Japan's measures would eventually boomerang on Japanese producers.
"I warn in advance that the Japanese economy will suffer greater damage in the end," Moon said, according to Yonhap. "If it's what Japan intends, it will never succeed."
Groups of South Korean plaintiffs have asked to speak with Japanese companies that recruited forced laborers during wartime, a move that is being dismissed at firms like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The Korea Times reported Monday Mitsubishi has turned down demands for "conciliatory dialogue" from plaintiffs, including direct victims of forced labor.
The plaintiffs may decide to pursue the sale of seized Mitsubishi assets, according to the report.