Het dunste rubbertje is Japans. Nee, Chinees

Condooms. ANP PHOTO LEX VAN LIESHOUT Foto ANP

Ze maken ruzie over van alles en nog wat, China en Japan. De nieuwste inzet: het dunste rubbertje ter wereld.

Will the indignities suffered by Japan Inc. never end? A day after Sony, which has been struggling to compete in smartphones and televisions against such upstart Chinese brands as Xiaomi and Hisense Electric, announced it would post a net loss of 230 billion yen ($2.1 billion) in the current fiscal year, a Chinese company filed a lawsuit against another champion of Japanese industry, Okamoto Industries.

Okamoto, like Sony, is a powerhouse with a proud history of innovation. Sony had the Walkman and the Trinitron; Okamoto has the Crown and the Big Boy, two of the company’s brands of condoms. What Sony was to Japanese consumer electronics, Okamoto still is to Japanese safer sex. Okamoto “has been pursuing and challenging an ultimate ‘Nothing-like’ feeling over 75 years”, the company says on its website, “pushing the boundary by the world’s most advanced technology”.

How advanced is that technology? Okamoto boasts on its website that, when it comes to comfort and size, nobody does it better. Its condoms are softer than others, it says on its website, adding helpfully that any doubters should give its products a try “by swelling up the condoms by yourself.” The condoms are not only soft; they are also lithe: Okamoto “is able to manufacture the world’s thinnest latex condoms which conform to the requirements of ISO 4074:2002″, according to the company.

There’s the rub. A Chinese company, Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products, says no, it makes the world’s thinnest condoms—the Aoni ultrathin 001. Guinness World Records confirms that claim, having verified last year that Daming United makes condoms with an average thickness of just 0.036 millimeters, or 0.001417th of an inch. The China Daily reports today that Daming United has filed a lawsuit against Okamoto, challenging the Japanese manufacturer for saying its condoms are the thinnest.

Victor Chan, Guangzhou Daming’s managing director, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, while Okamoto told Bloomberg it had not yet received notice of the lawsuit so would refrain from commenting. So far, though, the threat of litigation hasn’t deflated Okamoto’s stock price: The company’s shares have gone up nearly 30 percent this year and are trading near their 52-week high. In the April-to-June quarter, net profit increased 24.7 percent year on year, to 1.1 billion yen, on sales of 17.8 billion yen.