Osaka-based Fukushima Industries Corp. apologized Tuesday for the uproar over Fukuppy, its latest corporate mascot, saying it may change the name or its spelling in Roman characters.
Fukushima Industries is a major maker of industrial freezers and refrigerators, with offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, China and Malaysia. Its president is Yutaka Fukushima.
But its cutesy-looking character — an egg with wings and red feet — became the butt of countless satirical jokes over the weekend after English-language media erroneously reported that Fukuppy was somehow linked to a public relations campaign to shore up the image of the trouble-ridden power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, where residents, farmers and fishermen are still suffering from radiation leaks and disaster containment blunders at the crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant.
The mascot’s name is made up of the “fuku” part of the company’s name combined with a cheery-sounding “uppy,” and is pronounced “Foo-koo-pee.” In English, however, a different pronunciation of Fukuppy could conjure up a combination of an obscenity with “up,” in a misspelled rendering of a term denoting blunders or someone prone to blunders, and even the slang word for an amphetamine drug.
“This time, the name of our corporate character, because of the way it’s written, has been regarded as inappropriate, or has been misunderstood among English-speaking people,” the company said Tuesday. “We sincerely apologize for the fact that we have caused misunderstandings and concerns among many people.”
Earlier in the day, a Fukushima Industries spokeswoman said the firm was “aware of” international ridicule on the Web over Fukuppy, but said it has no link whatsoever to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant meltdown disaster.