The Hong Kong franchise of fast-food chain Yoshinoya has apologised for a Facebook post earlier this week which was interpreted as being insulting to the police force.

The incident was sparked after officers went to a “Lennon Wall” in Tai Po on Wednesday, removing several posters that included personal details of a frontline officer. Since then, some demonstators have given the force an insulting nickname, “paper-ripping dog.”

Yoshinoya’s Facebook page then published a post saying that people should stop calling their fish-based product “lion dog” – which in Cantonese pronunciation is the same as “paper-ripping dog” – and should, instead, use its Japanese original name “chikuwa” instead.

The now-removed Yoshinoya Facebook post. Photo: Yoshinoya/Facebook.

The post also said “lion dog is not only available in Tai Po.” Although the post did not mention any political incident, it was widely seen as poking fun at the police.

Marvin Hung, CEO of Hop Hing Group which runs Yoshinoya branches in the city, told Chinese state-owned newspaper Wen Wei Po that he was angered after he heard about the post, because he did not know in advance that it would be published.

Hung said that he participated in the recent pro-police rally, and he fully supported the Hong Kong government’s stance in accordance with the law.

He said the company has fired the public relations agency, and its internal staff member responsible for the promotion.

But in a Facebook post published on Friday afternoon, Yoshinoya said no-one had been fired.

“Hi everyone, thank you for your concern. The post [on Wednesday] attracted a lot of responses – we are sorry if it made anyone unhappy,” it said.

Marvin Hung
Marvin Hung (right). Photo: Hop Hing.

Social Strategy Hong Kong, which was managing Yoshinoya’s social media presence, also told HKFP that no staff member at the company or Yoshinoya had been fired over the incident.

Hung has been a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) since January 2018. He has also been a member of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the CPPCC since 2008.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions protested outside a Yoshinoya branch in Yau Ma Tei on Friday, saying that it was unreasonable for Hop Hing to fire its staff member responsible for ad. They called for a boycott of the chain.

Hop Hing did not immediately respond to HKFP’s requests for comment.

Yoshinoya Protest
Protest outside Yoshinoya branch in Yau Ma Tei. Photo: Stand News.

Pocari Sweat sweats

Meanwhile, Hong Kong broadcaster TVB issued a statement saying that it was “extremely disappointed” by Japanese isotonic beverage brand Pocari Sweat after it was pressured to pull ads from the station.

Users on the Reddit-like LIHKG forum launched a campaign urging companies to abandon their links with the embattled television station over coverage they consider biased.

Posted by Pocari Sweat HK (Official) on Wednesday, 10 July 2019

A user posted a screenshot on Tuesday which appeared to be a message originating from Pocari Sweat’s Facebook page. The company said that it was conducting comprehensive reviews on media planning towards TVB, and has taken “a proactive step to urge TVB broadcast station to respond to public concerns.”

LIHKG users praised the beverage brand and started to buy the drink in large quantities. In response, former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying called for a boycott campaign in mainland China.

Pocari Sweat on Wednesday posted a message from Otsuka Pharmaceutical (H.K.) Ltd, its mother company, which said that “We sincerely apologize that our reply dated July 9 have led to inconvenience.”

In a statement issued on Thursday, TVB said it opposes anyone using commercial means to interfere with its unbiased news reporting and press freedom.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.