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Way back in 2007, what appeared to be typical scare-tactic spam circulated the internet. The “spam” warned about cheap, Chinese-made flip-flops that some wearers’ feet were having nasty reactions to, resulting in terrible burns. Included were photos of one woman’s disastrous encounter with the sandals along with paperwork detailing her crusade to stop them from being sold ever again.

It now seems that a similar warning message is spreading like wildfire online in Japan. After checking our calendars and confirming that it’s not still 2007, we did a little research.

Unfortunately, back in 2007, it turned out that this sandal-related warning was not spam; it was very real, and plenty of the documentation included with the original report has been checked out by multiple sources. You may have received that email from the same aunt who sends you chain messages that foretell terrible things happening to you or your family for not passing it on, but the sandal story was true.

The offending sandals were sold by supermarket giant Walmart, who confirmed that similar reactions to the sandals had been reported in isolated cases. Walmart is a national chain, so we are probably talking hundreds of thousands of pairs of these particular flip-flops sold without any issue, however.

According to some news outlets, the original poster’s goal was accomplished when Walmart pulled the sandals from their store shelves in September of that year. So, why are we seeing a re-hash of the same warnings, using the same pictures, in 2014?

Here’s the “warning” that’s currently being shared online in Japan.

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The version of this story that found its way to Japanese sites is a re-hash of the 2007 story using the same pictures, but this time does not mention Walmart. Instead, the warnings state that pretty much all products from China should be treated as potentially dangerous, the English text accompanying the photos mentioning lead poisoning, hydrochloric acid, any and all the scary words you may have heard regarding Chinese products over the years.

Naturally, some English speakers in Japan – perhaps thanks to pre-existing notions about and recent disputes with their neighbors – have taken this advice to heart and are rapidly sharing this image with warnings of their own.

▼”This summer, we have to be careful about purchasing beach sandals from China. The straps on the sandals seem to be made of hydrochloric acid and then melt in the sun. It’s really terrible.”

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Japanese netizens are certainly taking this as current news and posting the following comments on various online news outlets.

“That’s hideous!”
“It’s a very grotesque warning.”
“Most Chinese products are like that.”
“That’s exactly what I expect from China.”

So do the world a favor: if you have any Japanese friends or family who send this message your way, point out to them that the photos are roughly seven years old and alert them to where they came from.

While it is always smart to do your research and be cautious of cheaply made products rather than simply snapping up any old junk for the sake of saving a few pennies, it’s irresponsible to dismiss a product just because of something you read somewhere online. Do a little digging and be a responsible netizen before you click the “share” button.

Source: Hamsoku, Truth or Fiction
Images: Hamsoku, Truth or Fiction