Halal sushi chain Nippon Sushi Malaysia has issued a statement to address a viral TikTok video done in collaboration with local influencer CEO Batu to promote the opening of its outlet in Penang.

The video begins with the influencer mocking the Japanese language, where he replies to a comment in Japanese by using well known Japanese brands such as "Toshiba" and "Daikin" in his reply. He also tapes his eyes to make them appear slanted. The video has been taken down from Nippon Sushi's official websites but is still up on CEO Batu's TikTok account. The video has garnered over 527,000 views at the time of writing. 

Following the backlash on its social media channels, Nippon Sushi promptly released a statement to apologise to its customers. In the statement, it acknowledges that the video was inappropriate for a multicultural society and for its corporate brand.

Additionally, the brand said that it would take responsibility of its mistake, and did not mean to offend any race or culture. It also hopes that CEO Batu would apologise. A quick search done by A+M found that CEO Batu has yet to release a statement on the incident, and his Twitter account has been taken down as well.

racist sushi

According to Nippon Sushi, social media is its main medium for marketing, and have previously collaborated with other influencers to promote its chain the past four years. However, this was the brand's first time using TikTok to launch marketing initiatives. "Our excitement caused us to overlook the incident. We acknowledge our weakness and will improve on out end," the statement said. 

nippon statement
The number of mentions of Nippon Sushi peaked with 700 mentions on 2 August, according to Meltwater statistics between the day the video was posted, 22 July, to 3 August. Some of the top keyword associated with the TikTok comprise "insensitive racist content" which occured1039 times, "race stereotype" and "slanted eyes".  
nippon melt

Most netizens have expressed their disappointment, and questioned the sushi chain for their bad marketing stunt. They compared the recent TikTok video to its previous promotion of its first outlet which invited local entrepreneur Khairul Aming to review its food offerings, where they questioned the reason the sushi chain switched up its marketing tactics.

Local influencer @CeddyOrNot also called out Nippon Sushi's TikTok, where he stated that the company should not have resorted to cheap gimmicks to promote its food. He added that Nippon Sushi should respect the Japanese culture, as it offers the Japanese cuisine.

Meanwhile, another netizen has also called out racially insensitivity that commonly occurs within the Malaysian community.

Just recently, in Singapore, the Chai Chee branch of Anytime Fitness also received backlash for its marketing on TikTok, which mainly featured girls in revealing clothing dancing to popular TikTok tunes to promote its opening. Several netizens said the content on Anytime Fitness Chai Chee's TikTok account is irrelevant to the gym.

Meanwhile, in May,  Bonia addressed and cleared misconceptions about the company having a monoethnic workplace after a TikTok video circulated online. "Diversity in a workplace is important not only for personal career development but integral for us as a progressive lifestyle brand. We are, and have always been, a company that prides itself on nurturing inclusive work culture," the brand explained.

Related articles:
Anytime Fitness outlet garners backlash for TikTok videos featuring girls in revealing clothes
Bonia denies having monoethnic workplace after TikTok video backlash

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