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23 Nov 2021

Nikkei Asia

Japan: More apparel makers stop using China's Xinjiang cotton amid forced labour concerns

"Japanese apparel makers join boycott of China's Xinjiang cotton" 22 November 2021


Japanese clothing makers, including Sanyo Shokai and TSI Holdings, have decided to stop using Xinjiang cotton, following in the footsteps of Mizuno, a major sports equipment and sportswear company, and others. The moves of Japanese clothing names with clout within the industry could create a ripple effect for the entire textile supply chain.

Sanyo Shokai [...] will stop using Xinjiang cotton, starting in the 2022 spring-summer season. Sanyo Shokai President Shinji Oe has told Nikkei that the company has gathered information on human rights issues in Xinjiang, but has been unable to pin down the facts. "As long as there is doubt, we have no choice but to stop" using Xinjiang cotton, Oe said.

TSI [...] has learned that cotton sourced from the region was used in some of its products. It has eliminated Xinjiang cotton from its products for this autumn-winter season. "We will not use [Xinjiang cotton] until the human rights issues are resolved," said TSI President Tsuyoshi Shimoji. King, known for its Pinore a women's clothing brand, has followed suit.


Besides Mizuno, Gunze, a major underwear maker, has also stopped sourcing cotton from Xinjiang. Sanyo Shokai and TSI use a wide variety of fabrics for their small-lot production of a broad array of products. The decision was difficult for these manufacturers because it creates challenges for their supply chain management and product development. But they have been forced to take the step amid a growing consumer backlash over allegations that members of the mostly Muslim Uyghur minority group are being used as forced labour in China.

China is the world's second-largest cotton grower, with Xinjiang accounting for 80% to 90% of the country's production. Many industry executives say it is impossible to eliminate Xinjiang cotton entirely from the global supply chain. Some Japanese clothing manufacturers, including women's underwear maker Charle, are responding by reducing the amount they use.


Part of the following timelines

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

China: Mounting concerns over forced labour in Xinjiang