Japanese processor stops importing tomato paste from Xinjiang

Japanese processor stops importing tomato paste from Xinjiang

Yesterday, Kagome Co, Japan’s largest producer of ketchup and vegetable juice, said it had stopped purchasing tomato paste from Xinjiang, China. The reason for this should be found in current concerns about forced labor in that area.

The move comes at a time when Western and Japanese companies are facing boycotts and a general response in China to comments expressing concern about the mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. China has denied all the abuse allegations.

“The growing human rights issue is one of the factors we have taken into consideration, but that is not the only reason to stop buying there,” Kagumi spokesman Kazumasa Kitagawa told Reuters. He said any leftover pasta from the region would be used this year.

Tomato paste from Xinjiang accounts for only about 1% of Kagome’s total production. Kitagawa said the company takes cost, sustainability and other factors into consideration when sourcing raw materials.

The Xinjiang region in western China is famous for its cotton and tomatoes. The United States banned imports of both products in January, and the United Nations urged companies around the world to closely monitor their supply chains in response to reports of Uyghur Muslim detention and forced labor in the boycott.

Experts said it cannot be ruled out that the Japanese company issued a statement on Xinjiang issues to be used as a gift from Japan to the United States on the eve of the Japan-US summit, to be held on Friday.

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