TOKYO — Japanese cosmetics and health-care product-maker DHC is facing social media backlash over comments the company’s chairman and chief executive officer made on the company’s web site. The executive, Yoshiaki Yoshida, used a derogatory term in reference to Koreans.
The post by Yoshida was published in November, but gained traction across Japanese Twitter this week. In it, the chairman began his rant by trashing Suntory, a competitor of DHC in the nutritional supplement category.
“Products that DHC sells for 500 yen, Suntory sells at nearly 5,000 yen, so it’s natural that their total sales figures are higher. Some consumers are quite frankly stupid, so they think that if the price is high it must mean that the product is good, so they go ahead and buy the more expensive one,” Yoshida wrote.
The executive continued his post by tearing into Suntory’s choice of models, actors and influencers in its product advertising.
“The talent used in Suntory’s commercials are for some reason nearly all Korean-Japanese. That is why the company is mocked online as ‘Chontory,’” Yoshida’s post says. “Starting with the talent DHC uses to everything else we do, we are a pure Japanese company.”
The term “chon” is a derogatory one sometimes used in Japan to refer to Koreans or those with Korean roots, and it was this word choice that has led to the backlash against DHC across social networks and Japanese media alike. On Wednesday, a hashtag in Japanese that translates to “I don’t buy products from discriminatory DHC” was trending on Twitter.
While some Twitter users called for a boycott of DHC and said the government should take action against the company, others pointed out that Yoshida’s comments were not even entirely factual. DHC products are sold in countries outside of Japan including the U.S., South Korea, Taiwan and the U.K., and the company often hires local models to promote its products in those markets.
This is not the first time Yoshida made derogatory remarks about Korean-Japanese people. In 2016, he referred to Koreans in Japan as “pseudo-Japanese” in another post on the DHC web site, saying that they should return to South Korea.
A spokeswoman for DHC did not respond to a request for a comment regarding the latest controversy.