Activists mar presscon of Japan's richest man

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Jun 13 2012 04:37 PM | Updated as of Jun 14 2012 06:57 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A handful of animal rights activists disrupted the press conference of Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo at the SM Mall of Asia, Wednesday afternoon.

Fast Retailing Co. chairman, president and CEO Tadashi Yanai, who is considered Japan's richest man, was holding a press conference for the opening of the first Uniqlo store at the MOA.

An unidentified animal rights activist is restrained by a security guard after
shouting at Japanese executives of Fast Retailing Co. during a press conference
at the SM Mall of Asia, Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Fernando Sepe Jr.,

Yanai was on stage with Fast Retailing Philippines chief operating officer Katsumi Kobota, when two animal rights activists started shouting from the sidelines.

Two activists, who held up signs "Uniqlo Stop Sheep Cruelty", were quickly carted off by the SM mall security. The activists, who were reportedly from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation (PETA), were against Uniqlo's use of wool from Australian farmers who mutilate sheep in a practice called "mulesing."

A female foreigner, who was wearing a press ID, managed to gain access to the press conference, go up the stage and shout at the Japanese officials. It took several security personnel before the woman could be controlled.

Yanai and Kobota looked unperturbed by the disruption and continued to answer questions from the media. They did not give any comments about the animal rights activists.

After the press conference, a male foreigner, who was wearing a dark suit, also shouted "Uniqlo, stop sheep cruelty," at the departing Japanese officials.

Uniqlo, considered Japan's number one clothing brand, is opening its first Philippine store on June 15 (Friday). Fast Retailing partnered with the Sy family's SM Retail Inc. to form Fast Retailing Philippines.