Japanese firm’s mascot name earns ridicule


Staff Writer

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.

  • pervertt

    No, no, please leave it alone. Fukuppy is a very appropriate name for anything associated with TEPCO and its disastrous response to radioactive leaks in Fukushima.

  • StevenStreets

    Have you heard about the homeless abandoned “puppy” with one eye, no hair, three legs, a broken tail? Answers to the name of “Lucky”.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Brilliant! And compounded by the Japan Times attempt to distance the correct pronunciation from that used by English speakers – the JT’s pronunciation is wildly off and the English speaker pronunciation must more accurate. Looks like everything to do with the name Fukushima, be it freezers or nuclear plants is a complete Fukuppy!!!

  • Andrew

    So because people don’t know how to properly pronunciate Japanese words this warrants an apology…ok then.

  • Glen Douglas Brügge

    I feel sorry for the company; they have nothing to do with Fukushima or TEPCO! They make freezers. But I must say, it is rather “humorous.” It would certainly be a good name for a TEPCO mascot though.

  • Mike Wyckoff

    This whole thing is turning into a Fukupp.

    But would it have been an issue if English Dailies hadn’t covered it?
    I mean, im sure we’ve all seen far worse butchering’s of English where companies purposely tried to write IN the English language.
    Here, though, English speakers are mispronouncing something clearly written with the Japanese consumer in mind.

    If you’ve ever been to the Tonkatsu restaurant on the second floor of Kansai Airport, and had the privilege of enjoying their “black pig” from “the source of the mountain foot” covered in “cut glass source” will truely know what a Fukuppy is….

  • Ain

    English speakers aren’t the only people on earth who use Romaji –but there are enough of them that do to warrant checking how they’d pronounce the word! A humorous-sounding menu item in an obscure restaurant is one thing, a mascot representing a multinational corporation that evokes images of a national tragedy and sounds like the mother-of-all-curse-words is another.

  • Rossjoe

    Congress should make Fukuppy its official mascot!