A cosmetics company in Japan has issued an apology regarding a sign one of its stores recently posted that indicated Chinese people were prohibited from entering.
Written in Japanese, the offending sign placed in an unspecified Pola store window read: “Entry by Chinese people prohibited.”
In a statement written in Chinese and Japanese, Pola, which runs 4,600 cosmetics outlets throughout Japan, said it had removed the sign and apologized for causing “unpleasant feelings and inconvenience to many people”.
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“As soon as we confirm the facts, we will suspend operations at the store and implement strict punishment,” the company, a unit of Pola Orbis Holdings Inc., wrote on its website on Saturday.
However, photos of the sign had already gone viral on Chinese and Taiwanese social media before the company was able to take it down, reports The Telegraph. The incident, which ignited further online tension between the neighboring countries, comes at an unfortunate time when the Japanese government is hoping to attract more Chinese tourists.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is actively pushing for an increase in Chinese visitors in retail hotspots to benefit from the country’s shopping tourism. The Japanese government allowed for a relaxation of visa entry rules in its efforts to keep the tourists coming in.
Based on government statistics from the last 12 months leading to October, about 6.2 million Chinese visited Japan, which marked a 13% increase from 2016’s figures. Many of these Chinese travelers have been known to engage in shopping sprees at local malls and shops in a phenomenon that has been dubbed as bakugai or “explosion shopping”.