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Japan firm says skin stain complaints top 7,000

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A Kanebo booth at a shop in Tokyo on January 31, 2004. Japanese cosmetics maker Kanebo said the number of complaints about skin discolouring from using its whitening products has topped 7,000 from customers both at home and abroad. (AFP/File)

Japanese cosmetics maker Kanebo said Monday the number of complaints about skin discolouring from using its whitening products has topped 7,000 from customers both at home and abroad.

Last month, the company announced a recall of 54 of its products that contained a substance called 4HPB, a synthetic version of a natural compound developed by Kanebo.

A company spokesman also said it would pay medical costs for any customers who had been left with uneven colouring of their skin, even after they stopped using the products.

The firm said Monday it has received a total of 7,266 complaints mostly from Japanese consumers who used creams such as "Blanchir Superior", with about 65 complaints coming from overseas.

The latest figure is more than triple the number of complaints announced last month.

Kanebo's recall involving almost 4.75 million products on retail shelves affects Japan, Britain and 10 Asian territories: Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.

"We are nearly finishing recalling affected products, but we are still receiving complaints," the spokesman said.

Skin whitening products are popular among women all over east Asia, with users seeking lighter tones.