Japan Retailer Don Quijote To Withdraw Nazi Costume After Jewish Complaint

12/07/2010 12:36 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

TOKYO — A Japanese discount chain said Tuesday it will pull a Nazi costume from its shelves after receiving a complaint from an American Jewish organization.

The costume on sale at retailer Don Quijote Co. includes a black jacket with a red swastika armband in a package adorned with a sketch resembling Adolf Hitler and the phrase "Heil Hitler" in Japanese characters.

The outfit was on sale for about 5,000 yen ($60) in at least two Don Quijote outlets in Tokyo, including one in the upscale Ginza shopping district.

Aico, a Japanese party goods maker, has made the costume for seven years and never had a complaint, said spokesman Nobuyoshi Nasuzawa.

"This was meant purely as a joke, as something that would easily be recognizable. If we have complaints we will certainly stop sales," he said. It was not clear if Aico would now stop making the costume.

Don Quijote said it would pull the product after receiving a letter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish rights organization based in Los Angeles. The letter, dated Monday, requested that sales at the store cease immediately, saying the swastika is a "symbol of hatred" and reminding the retailer that millions of Jews and other innocents were killed by the Nazis during World War II.

"We want to fully respond to this letter from the center and are currently working within the company to do so," said company spokeswoman Kana Kasai in Tokyo.

Kasai said she didn't immediately know how long the product had been on sale or how many had been sold.

In one store, the Nazi costume was on display alongside dozens of others, including one that resembled pop star Michael Jackson, as well as nurse and ninja outfits.

An online search showed the costume was also available through small retailers hosted on shopping sites such as Amazon Japan, the U.S. company's local unit. An Amazon spokesman in Tokyo was not immediately available for comment.