Boycott of Japanese products in South Korea gains momentum amid diplomatic row

Robie de Guzman   •   July 12, 2019   •   1533

Japanese products missing from shelves of South Korean supermarket | Courtesy: Reuters

Calls in South Korea for a boycott of Japanese goods have been growing in response to Tokyo’s curbs on the export of high-tech material to Seoul, as a dispute over compensation for forced wartime labour roiled ties between the countries.

Some South Korean supermarkets on Thursday (July 11) removed Japanese products from shelves as more social media users posted “Boycott Japan” messages and shared a link to a list of Japanese brands, including Toyota Motor and Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo.

“I used to buy Pokari Sweat and Sapporo beer, but they’re not here anymore. But you know what? I can live with that. I can use Korean products instead,” said 58-year-old Lee Choon-Duk as she browsed the shelves of a local Korean mart.

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

Last week, Japan tightened curbs on exports of materials crucial for smartphone displays and chips, as Tokyo said trust with South Korea had been broken in a dispute over South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two. (REUTERS)

(Production: Daewoung Kim, Hyunyoung Yi)

Japanese probe travels back to Earth with samples of distant asteroid

Robie de Guzman   •   November 14, 2019

Tokyo – Japanese probe Hayabusa2 began its journey back to Earth after collecting samples of a distant asteroid, marking an unprecedented achievement in space exploration, the country’s aerospace agency announced Wednesday.

The probe began maneuvers to leave asteroid Ryugu’s orbit and return to Earth, a distance of 700 million kilometers that would take one year to cover, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tweeted.

If the probe returns without any setbacks, Hayabusa2 will become the first space mission to bring surface and underground samples from extremely distant celestial bodies, contributing to research into the mysteries of the universe, JAXA said.

On Wednesday at 10:05 local time (1:05 GMT), the probe activated its lithium-ion powered engine to lift itself from its orbital location – some 20 kilometers above the asteroid – and begin its return journey.

JAXA provided details of the operation named “Sayonara Ryugu” (Goodbye Ryugu) on its Twitter account and posted pictures taken by Hayabusa2.

According to JAXA’s plan, the probe will pass over Australia towards the end of 2020 and drop a capsule containing sand and rock samples collected from Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 reached the asteroid in 2018 and made two touchdowns this year, in what have been pioneering missions of high technical complexity.

Maneuvers were aimed at retrieving underground samples from an artificial crater on the surface of the asteroid created by a projectile made of the metal tantalum fired by the spacecraft.

Ryugu is located 340 million kilometers from the Earth and its surface is believed to contain traces of coal and water formed during the birth of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.

The samples collected by Hayabusa2 could provide clues to the formation of planets and the origin of life. EFE-EPA
ahg/tk-sc/lds

Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Japanese firm recalls 1.7M bottles of Craft Boss Tea due to bacillus bacteria

Marje Pelayo   •   November 7, 2019

JAPAN – A Japanese beverage manufacturer has ordered the recall of its tea drink following reports that it causes severe stomachache.

The manufacturer, Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd, has ordered a recall of around 1.7 million 500ml bottles of ‘Craft Boss Tea’ specifically those marked “best before” August 2020, with blue caps and production facility code of ‘/JJ’.

The company admitted that bacillus cereus bacteria were detected in the said batch of tea drink which causes food poisoning and serious infections in humans.

In October, one customer complained that the tea tasted sour.

After laboratory tests and investigation, Suntory Beverage discovered that microbes were present even in other bottles.

Suntory Beverage vowed to refund its customers for every bottle of Craft Boss Tea Drink returned through a gift certificate corresponding their purchase costs. – MNP (with details from Danny Ticzon Jr.)

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