With offices in Toronto, Buenos Aires and Paris, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center keeps a vigilant eye on global anti-Semitism. And thanks to a wide and ardent network of supporters, its reach extends to the unlikeliest of places, like Japanese discount retail store Don Quijote Co.
In a letter sent Monday to company executives, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, petitioned that Don Quijote “immediately remove” Nazi soldier party costumes from its shelves after they were spotted by a member. The costume includes a black jacket and swastika armband. The packaging features a cartoonish Adolf Hitler in Nazi salute; “Heil Hitler” is written in Japanese.
“In December 2010 Nazism is not dead and the swastika is still deployed as a symbol of hatred against all “non-Aryans” including Asians,” the letter said.
Don Quijote, which runs 150 Japanese franchises, as well as four in Hawaii, had been selling the novelty item for $60 at about 10 of its Japanese stores before agreeing to halt sales on Tuesday.
Aico, which manufactured the costume, claimed ignorance: “We made this as a costume, without thinking much,” a company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal. “But as we think again about all the problems with the Nazis, we are now deeply aware that we had lacked consideration for other people.”