BDS goes big in Japan: MUJI cancels Israel branch opening

The ultra hip international Japanese retailer MUJI has cancelled its planed Israel store amidst growing criticism and protests in Japan. This is the first major Japanese BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) victory. According to the Japanese daily, The Mainichi Daily News:
Ryohin Keikaku announced in April it would sign a license contract with an Israeli company and open what would be Israel’s first Mujirushi Ryohin store in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem in 2011. But the company’s expansion plan met with criticism on the Internet and some peace activists have been calling on consumers to boycott MUJI-brand goods after Israeli naval commandos attacked an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip in May, killing at least nine people.
BDS activists in Japan adapted direct action techniques in raising awareness about BDS. Popular in the United States , the activists created mock West Bank checkpoints outside of MUJI stores in Tokyo.
BDS Action in Front of MUJI Stores in Japan. Photo: Palestine Forum Japan
BDS Action in Front of MUJI Stores in Japan. Photo: Palestine Forum Japan
Palestine Forum Japan, the BDS group responsible for lobbing  MUJI reported that,

For over 7 months, various nationwide actions such as appeal actions in front of some of the MUJIbranches, constant appeal through websites or Twitter and sending message cards to the MUJI, had been addressed as the Stop MUJI Campaign. Additionally the appeal action in front of the MUJIbranch in Seoul, South Korea, was organised. Since the campaign was gradually growing into the international movement, the MUJI management finally had to cancel the plan.

According to the MUJI’s announcement, the cancellation of its plan was made because of the “economic reason”. However, when some members of the Palestine Forum made inquiries at theMUJI management in last August, they replied that it seemed hard to be understood its plan of supplying MUJI’s brand goods into Israel by all the people, therefore, we had to say that our plan had been “undecided”. So from this reply, we could substantially say that the final decision of the cancellation was made due to the request for cancellation by citizens of Japan.

The official announcement of the cancellation can be placed as the first historical victory of the BDS Campaign against Israel in Japan. We can also expect that this victory will bring big progress to the internationally expanding BDS Campaign in Asia. The Victory in this context means the first and certain step to change the international society which has kept silence against Israel’s criminal act.

BDS Action in Front of MUJI Stores in Japan. While trying to look like IDF soldiers, their outfits looked more like space suits. Photo: Palestine Forum Japan
BDS Action in Front of MUJI Stores in Japan. While trying to look like IDF soldiers, their outfits looked more like space suits. Photo: Palestine Forum Japan