National

Taipei travel cards featuring Japanese porn star sell out in hours

Kyodo

Taiwanese travel payment cards featuring the image of Japanese adult video actress Yui Hatano sold out within four hours of going on sale Tuesday.

EasyCard Corp. began taking orders by phone for the cards at midnight and sold out all 15,000 sets at 4:18 a.m., the company said in a statement.

The company apologized again that the cards — racy but without nudity — had caused so much controversy. It said it would amend internal rules regulating the images printed on cards.

EasyCard is a prepaid, reusable e-money card used to ride subway and railway lines in Taipei. It is also accepted on buses and taxis and in stores for purchases, and can additionally be used to pay for government fees and public service charges.

The company came under fire after it announced last week that it would issue a pair of cards featuring the star. It said it would donate the proceeds to charities.

The “black devil” card features Hatano wearing a dark strapless top, while the “white angel” card shows her donning white lingerie. The latter shows her cleavage.

While the company defended Hatano’s images on the cards as being “healthy” and “beautiful,” it appeared not to anticipate the controversy and was seen to reverse course over the image and the manner of distribution several times in the past few days.

It finally announced Monday that it would sell the cards by telephone order only, after Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je asked the firm not to make any more of the cards and to refrain from selling them through public channels.

The Taipei City Government and Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. are two major stakeholders of EasyCard Corp. They have a combined ownership of 40 percent, while private individuals own the remaining 60 percent.

Meanwhile, some potential customers complained that the phone line was busy for hours despite their “eagerness to help charity organizations.”

City official Hsu Li-min, head of the Department of Social Welfare, said on his Facebook account that the city, as a major stakeholder of EasyCard Corp., should have stopped the company from issuing the cards.

Hsu, who doubles as the executive officer of the city’s gender equality office, said although he was not prejudiced against any occupation, there were tens of millions of EasyCards in circulation and it is inappropriate to “serve the interest of certain groups.”