TSU, Japan (Kyodo) — Akafuku Co., a Japanese-style sweets maker based in Ise, Mie Prefecture, resumed operations Wednesday at its main shop and two other stores in the city after a hiatus of about four months following a false labeling scandal.
At the main outlet on the approach to the Ise Jingu grand shrine, more than 200 consumers waited in line for its opening at 5 a.m., including those who had spent the night there.
Akafuku President Noriyasu Hamada took the lead in serving customers at the store after apologizing to the waiting shoppers, ''We apologize for the trouble.''
The surge of demand from the flock of shoppers caused the main store to run out of products around 1 p.m., while the other two put off opening by 1 hour from 9 a.m. as they failed to procure enough products from the factory by the planned time.
The moves came after the Mie prefectural government lifted last week its commercial ban on the maker of ''Akafuku'' rice cakes covered with sweet bean paste, popular souvenirs among visitors to the Ise Jingu.
The company plans to operate the three stores alone for the time being and resume other outlets under its direct management in stages.
As for about 300 sales agents, the company said it will resume business if there are requests by the store operators to do so.
It came to light on Oct. 12 that the company falsified manufacturing dates of the product, after which other improper practices were uncovered, including the reusing of bean paste and rice cakes on which consumption dates had already expired.
Following the false labeling scandals, the prefectural government issued an indefinite commercial ban on the firm on Oct. 19. But it lifted the ban a week ago, saying the company has taken enough measures to prevent a recurrence.