Ambassador takes aim at Japan’s richest man, questioning the decision to value pants and T-shirts over Ukrainian lives. 

As Ukraine’s most senior representative in Japan, Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky has been making his views heard about the conflict erupting in his homeland, and he’s not one to mince words.

▼ Yes, this is the same man who dressed as a samurai and posted this message to his official Twitter account before the invasion began.

So when news broke of Uniqlo’s decision to keep its stores open in Russia, as other global companies pulled out of the country, Ambassador Korsunsky took to Twitter again, saying:

This statement was made hours after Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, announced that Uniqlo would be continuing to stay open in Russia, saying:

 “Clothes are a life necessity. Russians have the right to live as well.” 

Uniqlo’s 50 stores in Russia remain open, despite competitors like H&M and Zara recently shutting down operations in the country. Uniqlo says they will be paying close attention to the situation, suggesting their decision to continue trading may change in future.

People around the world have criticised companies that choose to stay open in Russia, and opinion over Uniqlo’s decision to keep trading there has been divided in Japan.

Some commenters here pointed out that Yanai has openly stated his opposition to the war, and on 4 March, the company donated clothing and blankets, as well as 1.15 billion yen (US$10 million) to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support refugees due to the Ukraine invasion.

However, others drew people’s attention to the fact that last year, Yanai declined to comment on issues regarding whether Uniqlo used cotton sourced from China’s Xinjiang region, a month before a shipment of Uniqlo shirts was blocked from the U.S. amidst fears of forced labor involvement. Uniqlo has since denied any links to forced labour in its supply chain, although Yanai has said he would not take sides in any China-U.S. conflict, as he wants to remain neutral.

As the richest man in Japan, Yanai’s desire to remain neutral in the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is currently being tested, as more people around the world join the crusade to boycott companies that continue to do business in Russia.

Now that even McDonald’s has pulled out of Russia, the world waits to see what Uniqlo’s next move will be. And Ambassador Korsunsky, with his samurai armour, will also be waiting.

Source: Twitter/@KorsunskySergiyAsahi Shimbun via Jin
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