Just when you think things couldn't get any worse for Fukishima: Firm unveils new mascot called 'Fukuppy'
- Fukushima Industries apologised for 'worrying' customers with the name
- The bizarre egg-shaped character became an unlikely internet star
With its friendly face and welcoming greeting, a Japanese fridge manufacturer's new mascot was supposed to amuse visitors to the firm's website.
But the egg-shaped character has caused an online outbreak of the sniggers for all the wrong reasons.
Fukushima Industries says it is now considering rebranding its cute but somewhat awkwardly named mascot - 'Fukuppy'.
Oops: Fukushima Industries is reconsidering the name of its mascot - Fukuppy
The bizarre character, which has wings and red shoes, has become the source of much ridicule on Japanese social media sites since he was unveiled in April.
He greets visitors to the company's website with a friendly 'I'm Fukuppy. Nice to meet you.'
But rather than intending to amuse or offend, the unusual moniker, which is unlikely to inspire confidence among consumers regarding the reliability of the firm's products, is meant to reflect the company's ethos.
The name blends the first part of the company's name - Fuku - with the last part of the word 'happy' - reflecting Fukushima Industries' claims that it is a 'happiness creating company'.
And while Fukuppy claims to be the 'scatterbrained' one, company bosses are probably regretting not putting more thought into his name.
The company said in a statement that the name was mistaken for 'an inappropriate word among people in English-speaking places or its meaning was misunderstood on the Internet'.
No link: The company's unfortunately named mascot bears no relation to the Fukushima nuclear plant which suffered a series of catastrophes
It added: 'We sincerely apologise for worrying many people and creating misunderstanding among them.
'We will look into the name, including a rethink of it.'
The firm, which makes industrial cooling systems and has offices in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan, said its name was nothing to do with the stricken Fukushima power station - though many people commenting on the mascot's unfortunate title said that such an association would be apt following the string of catastrophes suffered by the prefecture.
Unusual custom: Asahikawa Prison, unveiled Katakkuri-chan as its mascot in a bid to soften the image of the jail
The clean-up at the site, 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 spotlight.
A series of leaks of radiation-contaminated water over recent months came on top of a power outage caused by a stray rat, adding to the widely held impression that the plant's operator is hapless.
It is common for companies and organisations in Japan to have a cuddly mascot character that they use as part of branding. Many are brought to life by adults in full-size costumes who wander around sponsored events posing for photographs with children.
In September, Asahikawa Prison in Japan's far north unveiled 'Katakkuri-chan', a 6ft 6ins humanoid with a huge square face and an enormous purple flower for hair, which bosses hoped would soften the image of the jail.
Tokyo Metropolitan Police has had its own crime-fighting mascot since the 1980s who is now well-loved across the nation.
The use of English, or English-derived words, is also very common in Japan, where despite many years of compulsory language schooling, standards remain relatively low.
This leads to occasional hilarity among visitors to the country, who struggle to understand why someone would drink the unappetising-sounding Pocari Sweat or the off-putting Calpis.
Bizarre phrases born of poorly understood English lessons frequently make their way onto t-shirts, stationery and into advertising copy.
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