Twelve major Japanese companies have established a policy of ceasing business deals with Chinese companies found to benefit from the forced labor of the Muslim Uighur minority in China’s far-western Xinjiang region.
According to a report by Kyodo News, pressure has been mounting on Japanese firms to take action over such human rights abuses in the supply chain after the United States and Britain imposed import restrictions on cotton and other products originating from the autonomous region. China’s sweeping crackdown on Muslim ethnic minority, Uyghurs in Xinjiang since 2017 in the name of counterterrorism, has drawn global ire. However, the Japanese government had been slow in imposing sanctions on Chinese entities, thus, drawing criticisms for being “passive in addressing the issue due to fears of provoking China”. In terms of future policy, 12 companies responded that they would cease or consider ceasing business with business partners found to be using forced labor.
More than 80,000 Uighur workers were transferred out of the Xinjiang region, where China’s Uighur population is concentrated, to around 30 factories across the country. There has been a growing push, particularly in Western countries, to closely watch for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.