MANILA, Philippines – Animal rights protesters tried to interrupt a press conference of Japanese casual clothes retailer, Uniqlo, which is set to open its Manila branch, its latest in Asia.
One of the lady protesters donned in white and had a press ID managed to come up the stage where Uniqlo chairman and chief executive officer Tadashi Yanai was on, answering questions from the media on Wednesday, June 13.
Yanai is Japan’s richest with a networth of US$10.6 billion, according to Forbes.
The protester, a foreigner who made it on stage, chanted “Stop Using Sheep!” indicating that the protest is part of an ongoing campaign of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) against the retailer.
Despite this, the press conference proceeded and the lady protester, as well as her companions who were holding placards, were escorted away.
The incident was at the atrium of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Uniqlo has just opened its first Philippine branch at the mall’s second floor.
PETA has been holding protests against Uniqlo in various cities around the world to protest the retailer’s reported continued use of Australian wool from mulesed sheep.
“Australian merino sheep are bred to have wrinkly skin so that they will produce more wool, but the wrinkles collect moisture and attract flies. Flies lay their eggs in the folds of the animals’ skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive, creating a condition known as ‘flystrike’,” PETA explained in a June 1 blog.
“In a crude attempt to prevent flystrike, Australian farmers perform the barbaric mulesing mutilation, in which they cut huge chunks of skin and flesh from lambs’ backsides with instruments resembling gardening shears – often without any painkillers,” it added.
Singer Morrissey has joined the animal rights crusade to urge Uniqlo to shun farmers who use a controversial sheep-shearing technique. Morrissey has written the song “Meat Is Murder” and mulling to follow-up with “Mulesing Is Misery.”
Uniqlo targets to open 50 stores in the Philippines in 3 years “as part of its goal to become the number one and favorite brand in the country,” it said in a statement.
“That number shows our confidence in the country,” said Katsumi Kubota, chief operating officer of local unit Fast Retailing Philippines, at a pre-opening press conference on Wednesday, June 13.
The first store formally opens to the public on Friday, June 15 at the SM Mall of Asia.
Uniqlo’s Manila opening was announced last January by the trade department and Fast Retailing Philippines Inc., a joint venture between SM Retail Inc. and Japanese retail industry leader Fast Retailing Co. Ltd of Japan.
Fast Retailing is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer that has branches in in US, UK, Europe and Asia. It features latest fashions for men, women, kids and babies. – Rappler.com