TOKYO: A major Japanese cosmetics company faced boycott calls on the Internet on Wednesday after its CEO used racist slurs against Koreans and bragged that his company was “pure Japanese.”
Yoshiaki Yoshida of Dubai Healthcare City made the comments in a message on the company’s website attacking rival Suntory, a major beverage manufacturer that competes with DHC in the health supplement sector.
“For some reason, all of Suntory’s commercial charter exhibitors are almost all Korean-Japanese. That’s why it appears they have been mocked on the Internet as” Chontory, “he wrote.
“Chun” is an insulting term to Koreans in Japan, and is widely seen as discriminatory.
Yoshida went on to write that by comparison, Dubai Healthcare City employees were “pure Japanese.”
Discrimination against Koreans in Japan dates back decades, against a backdrop of strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo over issues related to the war’s history.
The post was published last month, but only caught the attention of the public this week, angering several Japanese Twitter users, who began using the hashtag “I no longer buy products from the discriminating DHC.”
The company, which operates in South Korea, the United States, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“I can no longer trust products like this company. I’m against discrimination!” Wrote one Twitter user.
“Can they not do business without discriminating against minorities, consumers, and other companies? I will say no to such a shallow company,” wrote another.
Japan has laws against hate speech, but a Justice Ministry official contacted by AFP said he would only intervene if a formal complaint was filed.
He said, “The ministry’s basic policy in this regard is to launch campaigns against hate speech in general.”
During Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in 1910-1945, millions of Koreans moved to Japan, either voluntarily or against their will.
When Japan surrendered, hundreds of thousands of Koreans remained, and they suffered much discrimination and hardship.
The social media backlash against DHC comes after a recent Nike announcement made light of racism and bullying in Japan – including against a child wearing a traditional Korean costume – also sparked an uproar online.
Although the ad had been liked more than 91,000 times on Nike Japan’s YouTube channel by Wednesday, it was also liked by no more than 69,000 viewers.
Some accused Nike of anti-Japanese sentiment and even called for a boycott of its products.
Japan remains a fairly homogeneous country, and mixed children can often face prejudice, although attitudes change among younger generations.