Uniqlo says no forced Xinjiang labor used in making its products

Nikkei -- Jul 16
TOKYO -- Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing on Thursday stressed that the company does not use any materials linked to human rights violations in the supply chain amid rising concerns over forced labor in China's Xinjiang region.

Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki spoke to the media after the apparel maker posted a net profit of 151 billion yen ($1.38 billion) for the first nine months of this fiscal year, up 67% from a year ago.

French prosecutors are investigating Fast Retailing and other global apparel makers for alleged crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, according to local media reports. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to ban the import of products from Xinjiang, where U.S. officials say Uyghurs and other Muslim groups face ongoing genocide.

Okazaki said, however, that French authorities had not contacted the company. "If there is such an investigation, we will fully cooperate with it and hope that they would understand how sincerely we are working on the human rights issues in our own supply chain," he said.

Okazaki said Fast Retailing had acknowledged the human rights issue as the "most important business challenge." He stressed: "We have made effort and led the industry to improve the situation."

Chief Financial Officer Takeshi Okazaki says the company does not use any materials linked to human rights violations in the supply chain. (Screenshot from Fast Retailing's Google Meet page)

In May, it was found that a shipment of shirts for the Uniqlo casualwear chain was blocked from entering the U.S. in January on suspicion they were made with forced labor in Xinjiang. Uniqlo said that those shirts were made from cotton produced in the U.S., Australia, and Brazil and put together in factories in China.

- Nikkei