Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has denied a recent report that alleged some of its partner factories in China were relying on forced labor from detained members of the Uyghur ethnic group.
The original report came from the Australian Strategic policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank founded by the Australian government (with some support from the United States State Department).
For the last decade China has faced accusations of targeting Uyghurs and other majority-Muslim ethnic groups based in the Xinjian region.
Those accusations include the report from ASPI, which alleges that the Chinese government has forcibly transferred Uyghurs from the Xinjiang region to factories across the region. ASPI alleged that these factories are part of the supply chain for companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and of course Nintendo.
Speaking to investors during a recent Q&A, Furukawa denied this report, saying it had investigated the claims after they emerged. “As far as we have been able to investigate, there is no record of the reported factories among Nintendo’s business partners,” he stated.
“In addition, we have not received any reports of forced labor within Nintendo’s supply chain up to this point.”
Furukawa also laid out that Nintendo’s long-established Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy has been supposed to ensure the company does not rely on prison or forced labor in its supply chain.
Parsing Furukawa’s explanation about the ASPI report is somewhat difficult. The report links Nintendo to these camps by way of the Dongguan Yidong Electronic Co. Ltd, which apparently claimed Nintendo as one of its partners on its website. Furukawa did not mention the factory by name.
It’s possible to take Furukawa’s claim in good faith while also recognizing that the long-standing claims against the Chinese government on its treatment of Uyghur minorities may mean there’s an overlap not being formally recognized here.
Or more frustratingly it may be just that difficult to tell which companies benefit from the labor simply based on the timing of when these firms are working together, and the strategies involved in using forced labor. The ASPI’s report notes that it removed some companies (like North Face) from its list based on the timing of when those companies worked with the alleged factories.