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CCTV puts Muji on hot seat on consumer rights day
Published on: 2017-03-17
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061China's state broadcaster has named and shamed a series of Japanese vendors, including the retail giant that owns Muji, for importing goods from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

China Central Television aired the expose on Wednesday to mark International Consumer Rights Day.

Baby formula, cereal, rice and spirits imported from Japan by several companies were produced in regions that had been blacklisted by China's food safety authority, according to the investigation. But the show's producers didn't have the products tested in an independent lab, nor did they claim they were contaminated and posed a health risk.

The two-hour show, known as The 3.15 Evening Gala albeit interspersed with song-and-dance routines to push up ratings.

In one segment, police in the southern city of Shenzhen said Ryohin Keikaku Co., the Japanese retailer that owns the popular Muji retail chain, was caught selling foodstuffs, including packaged egg pan cakes, from Tokyo. Chinese authorities had banned the import of food and agricultural products from Tokyo and nine other regions of Japan affected by nuclear contamination after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 damaged the nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture.

Muji had listed Japan as the place of origin without giving further details on the product's Chinese label, according to CCTV.

But Muji China dismissed the accusation as a misunderstanding, saying the name of the place printed on its package is not the origin of the products, but simply the address where its parent company is registered.

China joined a host of other countries, including the U.S., that banned imports of foodstuffs and agricultural products from Japan after the Fukushima disaster. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a more-specific list of Japanese regions from which certain products are banned. The U.S. agency has also maintained close contact with the Japanese government in monitoring radioactive levels in food originating from affected areas.

The annual CCTV program has been marred in controversy as its producers were sometimes accused of singling out big domestic companies and multinationals as leverage to sell ad time to them, an allegation the state broadcaster has denied.

This year, the only big name included was Nike Inc., which was accused of false advertising. The sporting-goods giant had claimed a certain line of sneakers had Zoom Air sole cushions inside when they did not, according to the broadcast. Nike China was not available for comment, but a Nike employee admitted in an interview with the Chongqing Morning Post on Thursday that "the company had made incorrect claims about the product on its official website" and was offering a full refund and a voucher with a 25% discount on any single purchase on its site as an apology.

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