China’s anti-Japanese sentiment is hurting sales of SK-II skincare

Sales of the upscale SK-II skincare brand dropped 34% between October and December, according to Procter & Gamble. The firm’s leaders also pointed the finger at anti-Japanese sentiment in addition to China’s delayed recovery. Japan began discharging cleaned radioactive water from its nuclear power facility Fukushima last year. Fukushima was struck by a massive tsunami in 2011. Despite the UN’s guarantee of the safety of the fish, China objected to the decision and prohibited any imports of seafood from Japan.

Although most scientists concur that the treated water will have little effect on the environment, customers in China boycotted Japanese companies, notably P&G’s SK-II, as misinformation stoked mistrust and anxiety. Additionally, hundreds of nasty phone calls were placed to Fukushima companies, and rocks were hurled at Japanese schools. However, P&G executives stated that sales of SK-II have already started to increase in recent months. On the company’s results conference call, chief financial officer Andre Schulten was reported as saying, “Our consumer research indicates SK-II brand sentiment is improving, and we expect to see sequential improvement in the back half.”

SK-II and other Japanese brands have experienced boycotts in China previously. A wave of anti-Japanese demonstrations in China in 2012 over a territorial dispute caused production at Japanese automakers Toyota, Honda, and Nissan to stop, and their showrooms were set upon. Aeon retail chains, Uniqlo, a quick fashion brand, and Sony were among the other Japanese corporations impacted. Although China and Taiwan both claim the islands, which are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, they are governed by Japan.

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