Skin whitening update: Kanebo denies postponing legal plea

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Skin whitening update: Kanebo denies postponing legal plea

Related tags Skin whitening products Skin whitening

According to Japanese media reports, Kanebo has requested the courts dismiss consumer claims that its’ skin whitening products has caused damages.

Kanebo is currently embroiled in the courts with a consumer who is seeking damages of ¥48million. However, but the personal care company is denying the reports that it has approached the courts to dismiss the case.

The news comes after the Asian subsidiary of Kao Group revealed a total 13,959 consumers to have developed white blotches from using its skin whitening products that were recalled last July.

All of the withdrawn products were skin whiteners containing the ingredient 4HPB, an artificial compound developed by Kanebo and around 250,000 Japanese consumers are believed to have used products containing the ingredient.

The first woman to sue Kanebo over the skin damages filed the lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court in September, stating that she had developed itchy skin and white blotches on her face, neck and arms after using the products.

According to the written complaint and other sources, the Tokyo woman started using a product containing Rhododenol.

In the courts..

The Japan Times has revealed that the claimant is demanding compensation based on the product liability law and other legal provisions. She contends her symptoms could have been prevented from getting worse if Kanebo had recalled the products or issued warnings sooner.

As well as paying medical expenses, Kanebo hopes to negotiate individual compensation with affected customers, but the likelihood of litigation is said to be increasing, the publication reported. 

Kanebo may also face government penalties for failing to report alleged side effects of its problematic whitening ingredient in accordance with the relevant laws.

Criticized for its' 'late reaction'

Over the last few months the Kao subsidiary has been criticized for 'reacting slowly' to the crisis and failing to recall their products or announce the danger to the public until a week after the decision had been made to take the skin whiteners off the market.

Taiwan, the company’s number one overseas retail market, has also announced a ban on products containing Rhododenol, and has recalled all beauty items containing the ingredient from the market.

At a press conference back in July, Kanebo president, Michitaka Sawada said: “the sale of our whitening products will fall in the second half. Our reputation was hurt.​”

He also said that Kao planned to compensate customers who suffer medical problems from the contaminated products, although they have not yet decided by how much.

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