Tokyo [Japan] November 23 (ANI): Japanese apparel makers have decided to shun the cotton produced from China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region citing forced labour and human rights abuses.
According to Nikkei Asia, Japanese apparel makers, including Sanyo Shokai and TSI Holdings, will stop using Xinjiang cotton.
It’s to be noted that the Xinjiang region produces some of the world’s highest grade cotton.
Prominent Japanese makers such as Sanyo Shokai, which sells clothing under the Paul Stuart, Epoca and Mackintosh Philosophy brands, will stop using Xinjiang cotton, starting from the 2022 spring-summer season.
Sanyo Shokai President Shinji Oe has said that the company has gathered information on human rights issues in Xinjiang,
“As long as there is doubt, we have no choice but to stop using Xinjiang cotton,” he said.
Sanyo Shokai is influential in the Japanese apparel industry because of its business partnerships with a number of large retailers.
According to Nikkei Asia, besides Mizuno, Gunze, a major underwear maker, has also stopped sourcing cotton from Xinjiang.
The boycott on Xinjiang Cotton has been difficult as 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 in which Xinjiang accounts for 80% to 90% of the country’s production.
However, many industry executives say it is impossible to eliminate Xinjiang cotton entirely from the global supply chain.
Some Japanese clothing brands are also stepping up their efforts to ensure socially responsible conduct by suppliers.
According to Nikkei Asia, Fast Retailing, which operates the Uniqlo casual clothing brand, has established a system to directly monitor the production of the materials it uses, including cotton, for possible human rights abuses and other ethical violations. Tadashi Yanai, the company’s chairman and CEO, has pledged to “secure high levels of traceability” throughout the supply chain, down to cotton farmers, to ensure ethical production.
From 2022, United Arrows will start demanding confirmation that no human rights abuses or other ethical problems are occurring in its supply chain, including at sewing factories and other suppliers.
The rethink on the use of Xinjiang cotton reflects a global movement that places greater importance on companies’ environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards. (ANI)