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In Reversal, Uniqlo Suspends Business in Russia

Vyacheslav Prokofyev / TASS

Casual wear giant Uniqlo will suspend operations in Russia, parent company Fast Retailing said Thursday, days after its president defended staying open in the country following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Uniqlo has made everyday clothing available to the general public in Russia too, as part of our mission," the Japanese firm said in a statement.

"However, we have recently faced a number of difficulties, including operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation. 

"For this reason, we will temporarily suspend our operations."

The announcement came after Fast Retailing president Tadashi Yanai on Monday said the conflict should not deprive people in Russia of clothing, defending an earlier decision to keep its stores in the country open even as rivals Zara and H&M suspended operations.

"Clothing is a necessity of life. The people of Russia have the same right to live as we do," he said, in comments that prompted calls for a boycott.

On Thursday, the firm said it condemned "all forms of aggression that violate human rights and threaten the peaceful existence of individuals."

It said its mission and responsibility was to provide basic, affordable clothing "to all, including those affected by conflict, natural disasters and other devastations," and noted it had donated $10 million to UNHCR along with clothes for refugees.

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