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Japanese Beverage Maker To Discontinue 65-Year Trademark

July 12, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ A Japanese beverage maker will stop using a trademark portraying a top- hatted, thick-lipped black man sipping a drink through a straw because some customers find it racist, the company announced today.

Nobuaki Hashimoto, spokesman of Calpis Food Industry Co., said the company will discontinue the 65-year-old trademark by the end of the year. The logo appears on labels of the company’s top-selling soft drinks and on advertising billboards across the country.

″In an age of internationalization, we cannot continue to use the trademark if it gives unpleasant feelings to consumers,″ Hashimoto said.

Calpis Food Industry began reconsidering the use of its logo in February because of increased interest in the issue of racial discrimination in Japan.

In January, Japanese publishers stopped selling ″Little Black Sambo,″ one of the most popular children’s books in Japan, because of the racist connotations the book carried.

In August, Japan drew harsh criticism from the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus for black mannequins and dolls, which caucus members said stereotyped and degraded blacks by exaggerating their physical features.

Japanese department stores subsequently withdrew mannequins and black dolls from their display windows and shelves.

Japanese politicians also have been denounced for racism.

Last summer, Michio Watanabe, the policy chief of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, said American blacks have few qualms about going bankrupt and implied they walk away from debts.

Two years ago, then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone caused a

controversy when he said the overall U.S. intelligence rate was brought down by the large numbers of blacks, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans living in the country.

Both men later apologized for their comments.

Hashimoto said that before it decided to discontinue the logo, the company conducted a survey of 36 Americans living in Japan, and more than half of them said they found the logo offensive.

Calpis Food, whose annual sales total $451.7 million, produces 80 million bottles of Calpis beverages a year, the official said.

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