Chinese netizens document Japanese products vulnerable to radioactive contamination; brands rush to reassure consumers
Published: Aug 25, 2023 12:51 PM
Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

Chinese netizens began posting lists of Japanese products, including cosmetics, daily necessities and mother and baby products, that may contain radiated water, soon after Japan began dumping Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean from Thursday afternoon local time.

Japanese brands on Thursday and Friday rushed to declare the safety of their products, as many Chinese consumers began taking a cautious approach to products made in Japan. Some domestic sushi brands or Japanese food brands also rushed to clarify where they source their seafood.

Many netizens consulted customer service staff from Japanese cosmetics brands, with most companies responding that production strictly complied with Japanese cosmetics regulations, and went through the strict customs quarantine process at the time of import into China. They stated that Chinese consumers could use these products without any concern. 

A customer service representative from Kao responded that the products imported through the official channels undergo testing for radioactive substances, and have passed the Chinese Customs requirements. Only products that meet national standards can enter the Chinese market.

"The company attaches great importance to the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water incident. At present, it is recommended that everyone go to the official sales point or formal channels to buy imported goods, so as to ensure the quality of goods," media reported on Friday, citing a Kao representative.

A customer service representative from Muji said that current existing products were not affected by the dumping of nuclear-contaminated water. 

Shu Uemura customer service staff also said that Japan's discharge of nuclear-contaminated water will not have an impact on its products. Although the origin of cosmetics products is mainly from Japan, the products are made all around the world, and are strictly in compliance with the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) management system and quality management measures.

Customer service staff from SK-II responded that the origin of SK-II products is located in Shiga Prefecture in western Japan, far from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and no radiation danger has been detected in the area around the plant. 

"SK-II products have not been affected by the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water, and consumers can rest assured that they can use and buy as normal," said the customer service.

SK-II customer service also said that the water source used in the manufacturing process of the product is fresh water, which is strictly treated and further evolved by advanced water treatment technology, and water quality testing is conducted every day to ensure that all water resources used meet the standards of high-quality water resources.

On June 14, P&G responded to consumer concerns about the impact of nuclear contamination on SK-II by saying that "all SK-II products and ingredients undergo a rigorous product safety assessment before being marketed and comply with the regulatory and safety requirements of their markets. SK-II ensures that products are safe and consumers can use these products with confidence."

However, some industry observers said that under safety considerations, consumers will remain cautious about Japanese cosmetics for some time.

Commenting under the topic "Japanese cosmetics nuclear pollution" and related topics on social media platform Xiaohongshu, many netizens said that they retuned products of Japanese cosmetics brands.

Data released by the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC) showed that cosmetics imports from Japan began to decline significantly from May 2023.

In May, the value of imports of cosmetics and skin care products from Japan stood at $314.5 million, while in June, the value decreased by 15.5 percent on a monthly basis to $265.6 million. In July, the import value further plunged to $251.2 million, according to data from GAC.

Starting in 2019, Japan became the largest import source of cosmetics in China until it was replaced by France in 2022, media reported.

Chinese sushi brands also clarified where they source their seafood. Nice Sushi in Southwest China's Chongqing, for example, said that they don't have any imported ingredients from Japan. "The salmon is imported from Norway, and the rest of the ingredients are domestic," reported on Friday, citing the brand.

Sanfanyipin Sushi in East China's Fujian Province also said that its salmon is imported from Norway, crab roe from China's Zhangzhou, while eel, snapper, tuna, octopus, saury and other sources from China's Zhoushan.

Global Times