Nintendo Tells ADL it will Raise Concerns of Swastika with Japanese Maker of
New York, NY, November 2, 1999 … The Anti-Defamation League
(ADL) today welcomed a decision by Nintendo of America Inc. to inform creators
of a Japanese version of Pokémon about concerns raised by a swastika appearing
on one of the popular children’s trading cards.
In a letter to ADL, Nintendo said the swastika raised valid
concerns about cross-cultural perceptions. The card, which was produced in
Japan, made its way into the United States by way of unauthorized "third
party" importing and sales. The company said the card was not intended for
an American audience.
"We welcome this decision by Nintendo. In today’s
shrinking world due to globalization, what is deemed appropriate or acceptable
by one culture may have a significantly different meaning in another," said
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "While Nintendo says this is
considered an ancient religious symbol of hope in the Buddhist and Hindu
traditions, the image of a swastika in any form has clearly negative and hateful
connotations in the Western world."
The symbol, emblazoned in the left-hand corner of a card from
the Japanese PocketMonsters Trading Card Game, was intended to represent a
"manji" sign ascribed to Buddhism and Hinduism, according to Nintendo.
The company, "… has a strict and extensive review process in place to
ensure Nintendo products are appropriate for release in the North American
market," said Peter T. Main, Nintendo’s Executive Vice President for
Sales and Marketing. This particular card was not scrutinized because it was
imported through the "gray market," he said. "We have forwarded
your concerns to the Japanese creators of the PocketMonsters Trading Card game
and are inquiring about future production plans in Japan for this specific
Wizards of the Coast, the company which holds the license to
manufacture the official U.S. version of Pokémon Trading Cards, has added
information to their Web site at