TOKYO - A popular discount retail chain in Japan removed a Nazi party costume, complete with a red swastika armband, from its outlets Tuesday in response to a complaint from a Jewish human rights watchdog.
The chain, Don Quijote Co., said it received a faxed letter from the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center mid-morning Tuesday, which demanded the removal of the product from its outlets.
"We have immediately taken action to remove the product from about four stores across the country where it was found," Don Quijote spokeswoman Emiko Onoue told AFP.
The costume, priced at less than 5,000 yen (S$79) each, included a black jacket, black boot covers and the armband, she said. It is manufactured by a party goods maker in Tokyo.
The stores where the product was sold included one in each of Tokyo's upscale shopping districts of Ginza and Roppongi, she said. "It had been displayed in very limited numbers.
"We have been strict about our social responsibility and take the case seriously as it has shown a lapse in our system to check against such a product," she said.
Don Quijote will make a formal reply to the letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center after consulting its lawyers, Onoue said. "We want to offer apologies first of all. We wish to tell them how we will fulfill our social responsibility."
Don Quijote has 216 outlets in Japan and four in the US state of Hawaii.
On its website, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said it had called on the chain in a letter to remove the Nazi uniform from its stores.
"One of our members in Japan was shocked to see Nazi uniforms replete with swastikas being sold by your chain," the letter said.
The centre calls itself an international Jewish human rights organisation with 400,000 constituent families.
"We are committed to teach younger generations about the bitter legacy of the World War II Nazi Holocaust and other crimes from that era," the letter read.