More on this petition:
We petition Mokuyobi and the landlords of Japanese Village Plaza and Weller Court demanding: 1) Mokuyobi to leave Little Tokyo 2) Landlords to cancel their leases Clothing brand Mokuyobi announced their plans to open a flagship store in Little Tokyo’s Japanese Village Plaza and kiosk at Weller Court in April 2021. Japanese American community members and Little Tokyo stakeholders quickly voiced concerns regarding appropriation, gentrification, erasure and theft of artwork. Mokuyobi responded with hostility and lies, deleted comments, and blocked accounts. At a time when legacy businesses are struggling and being forced out, anti-Asian violence continues, and displacement and inequality are increasingly urgent issues across the city, this insensitive response is inexcusable. As we are in the midst of a national reckoning with racial inequality and cultural appropriation, it is shocking that Mokuyobi has yet to begin essential anti-racist work that would allow them to understand the underlying issues of their decision to enter Little Tokyo as well as their broader brand strategy. Community self-determination has never been more important. The landlords who have granted Mokuyobi’s leases at Japanese Village Plaza AND Weller Court have recently forced out Little Tokyo Cosmetics, a fifty-year old store that was the first to carry Shiseido in the United States, and Blue Whale Jazz Club, a beloved venue and one of the few remaining major jazz clubs in the Los Angeles area. These landlords are invested in an Orientalist vision of Little Tokyo as a shopping district, rather than a community whose history is long and complex and has its own vision for its future. Residents and stakeholders include survivors of incarceration, exclusion acts, redlining, disinvestment, displacement and policing. Our attempts to voice our concerns and give constructive feedback have been repeatedly silenced by Mokuyobi. They alternate between backtracking their earlier insulting responses and offering empty promises of future engagement. Since going public with our interactions with Mokuyobi, we have received so many messages from people they have angered with their announcement, including creatives who are revealing Mokuyobi's history of stealing from artists and designers. Mokuyobi has taken time, energy, and labor from people and organizations who have been forced to engage with them as they scramble to fix their mistakes to save their bottom line. Because this is such a critical moment for Little Tokyo, Mokuyobi will continue to be a burden if they remain in the neighborhood. We need neighbors and allies who understand the critical intersecting issues of race, development, and displacement that are central to building a sustainable and equitable future, not a business that wants to profit from a vague and extractive relationship to Japanese culture. For these reasons, we demand Mokuyobi leave Little Tokyo!