• Kyodo

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Japanese sportswear firm Mizuno Corp. said Friday it will cease using cotton sourced from China’s far-western Xinjiang region in its products, a move believed to reflect rising concern over Beijing’s alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority.

Mizuno did not officially disclose the reason for its decision, which it said would have a minimal impact as Xinjiang cotton only makes up a small amount of the material used in its sportswear.

Output of products containing Xinjiang cotton will be discontinued and such items will not be restocked once they sell out, it said.

Western governments have been cracking down on cotton sourced from the region, prompting Japanese apparel manufacturers like Mizuno to begin considering switching to different materials.

Earlier this week, it was learned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection blocked a shipment of men’s shirts for the Uniqlo chain in January for allegedly violating an import ban on items containing cotton sourced from Xinjiang.

Tadashi Yanai, chairman and CEO of the chain’s operator Fast Retailing Co., said last month that the company would immediately halt business with suppliers if it was found products were made with forced labor, but he declined to comment further on human rights issues in the region.

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