On June 16, undergarment maker Gunze announced that it will stop using Xinjiang cotton produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The company was using it in some of its socks but will gradually switch to materials produced in other areas in light of growing criticism in the international community over the human rights violations against Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group.
The products affected are some items in the “HAQCARE indoor knit shoes” series. About 40,000 pairs are sold per year. Existing inventory will continue to be sold. “Although no acts contrary to human rights, such as forced labor, were found in the production of the Xinjiang cotton we use, we decided to discontinue use out of consideration for international public opinion,” the company explains.
In response to growing international criticism of human rights issues, the company is investigating the use of Xinjiang cotton in its other products as well. “At this stage, we have not confirmed the use of Xinjiang cotton,” the company said.
More and more Japanese companies are discontinuing their use of Xinjiang cotton. Apparel maker World plans to stop using Xinjiang cotton in its products. “We should refrain from selling products if there is a risk (of human rights violations being confirmed),” says President Suzuki Nobuteru. Mizuno and Cox have also decided to discontinue use.