Nintendo Responds To Forced Uyghur Labor Claims

Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said the company hasn't found any instances of forced Uyghur labor in its supply chains.


In a recent investor Q&A, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa responded to a report accusing the company, along with competitors Microsoft and Sony, for using forced slave labor to produce its products.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute published an investigative report in March 2020 calling out a number of companies--among them: Amazon, Apple, Dell, Gap, Google, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, Oculus, Sony, and others--for "potentially directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019." In total, over 80 companies have been accused.

The report states that 80,000 Uyghurs ("and other ethnic minority citizens") have been moved from the Xinjiang region to various factories across China. In these factories, people are monitored under "military-style management," where Uyghur citizens are subjected to forced "patriotic education" and mandatory Mandarin classes. Furthermore, Uyghurs can't practice their religion and live in "carefully guarded dormitories" with little freedom.

In short, the Uyghur population is being exploited for cheap (or "poverty-stricken") labor, with companies based or doing business in China potentially using this heavily surveilled and underpaid workforce in their supply chain.

In the investor Q&A, Furukawa said Nintendo is aware of the reports but hasn't found any incidents of forced labor in the company's supply chains.

"We are aware of the reports that question whether there is forced labor of Uyghurs in factories in Nintendo's supply chain," Furukawa said. "However, as far as we have been able to investigate, there is no record of the reported factories among Nintendo's business partners. In addition, we have not received any reports of forced labor within Nintendo's supply chain up to this point."

Furukawa clarified that Nintendo has corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies in place meant to stop the unethical treatment of its workers at all levels in the supply chain. He said the company asks its business partners to abide by these guidelines and works globally to implement ethical practices.

"Nintendo has long-established CSR procurement policies to ensure that prison labor and forced labor do not occur in our supply chain, and we ask that our business partners comply with the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines, which summarize these policies, in their business activities," Furukawa said. "Nintendo operates under the policy of ceasing business transactions when there is actual or serious risk of forced labor involving anyone, not limited to Uyghurs."

The ASPI investigation reports that "a small number of [the] brands" and their vendors have cut off ties to these factories in 2020. However, the report doesn't note which of the more than 80 companies have done this.

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