HONG KONG (AP) - Soft drink giant Coca-Cola said Wednesday it has pulled a robot figurine adorned with what appear to be swastikas from a Hong Kong promotion following criticism from a local Jewish leader.
The company withdrew "Robowaru" from a promotional set of plastic figurines derived from the Japanese television series "Robocon," after Rabbi Yakkov Kermaier of Hong Kong complained, Coca-Cola spokesman Kelly Brooks said.
Robowaru has two swastika-like designs printed on its chest. "We regret any misunderstanding this may have caused," Brooks said in a telephone interview from Atlanta.
He said the figurines were "exact replicas" of characters featured in the television series.
The Nazi swastika can easily be confused with a similar Buddhist symbol common in Asia. The two are nearly reverse images of one another, with the arms pointing in opposite directions.
The toy set can be bought for $3.60 with any purchase of six bottles of Coke. The miniature characters stand on small plastic pedestals with Coca-Cola logos on them.
Kermaier acknowledged the figurine probably was the result of an honest mistake. Still, "it's not simply a politically incorrect symbol," Kermaier said Wednesday. "It's an emblem that represents the wholesale slaughter of 6 million Jews."
At Animation International, which sells rights for Robocon in the region and worked with Coca-Cola on the toys, spokeswoman Jennifer Chan said the symbols were designed by the creator and "did not have anything to do with any organization or religion."
Ishimori Pro, the production house of late Robocon creator Shotaro Ishinomori, declined comment on Wednesday, as did Toei, the company that owns the rights to Robocon movies and merchandise.