Fukuppy mascot draws sniggers

AFP
Fukuppy mascot draws sniggers

Japan's Fukushima Industries has blamed a "misunderstanding" as the internet erupted in sniggers over its "Fukuppy" mascot, a name that recalls a catalogue of mishandling at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The Osaka-based refrigerator maker, whose name derives from its founder and has nothing to do with the area hit by an atomic catastrophe, has been much ridiculed on social networking sites for its egg-like mascot with blue wings and red feet.

"I'm Fukuppy. Nice to meet you," the smiling character with a human face tells visitors to the company's website. "I think I'm kind with a strong sense of justice but people say I'm a little bit scatterbrained."

A company spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said on Tuesday: "A lot of media are reporting (on) our mascot, which created misunderstanding. In order to get rid of the confusion, we will announce our stance on the issue on our website later in the day."

The firm would not comment on why they chose the intriguing moniker or whether they had considered how it might be rendered in other languages.

One of Japan's biggest makers of industrial cooling systems, Fukushima Industries has offices around the country as well as across Asia, including in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The firm said the name was nothing to do with the Fukushima disaster, the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, although the company has a sales office in Fukushima prefecture.

The clean-up at Fukushima, where reactors flung radioactive substances into the air, soil and sea in the days and weeks after it was hit by the March 2011 tsunami, has been beset with problems, and continues to come under the international spotlight.

A series of leaks of radiation-contaminated water over recent months, which came on top of a power outage caused by a stray rat, have added to the impression that the plant's operator is hapless.

As the name of the broken nuclear plant, "Fukushima" has come to worldwide attention, but it is also a family name, the characters for which mean "fortunate (or good) island".

The name "Fukuppy" is likely a mixture of the first part of the company name - Fuku - and the end of the word "happy".