Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing Co. faces mounting pressure over its plans to keep operating stores in Russia, even as other global retailers including fast-fashion rivals Hennes & Mauritz AB and Zara’s Inditex SA pause sales in the country over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tadashi Yanai, chief executive officer of Asia’s largest retailer, said in an interview with the Nikkei newspaper earlier this week that clothing was a necessity and that "the people of Russia have the same right to live as we do.” While firms including Apple Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. pull back from Russia, Fast Retailing said last week it is donating clothes and other items to Ukrainians who’ve fled and $10 million to the U.N.’s refugee agency.

The comments have drawn criticism, with some social media users pushing the hashtag #BoycottUniqlo. Ukraine’s ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, also criticized the retailer on Twitter. In an interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday, Korsunsky said "the more companies that withdraw from Russia, the better.”