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Why Did a Small Town in Japan Change Their Name to Usa?

We often associate the quality of the product with where it was manufactured, particularly if products are labeled Made in the USA. Other manufacturers purposely deceive their consumers, believing that the products were manufactured in the USA when they were not. Did you know that a town in Japan was accused of doing so?

There was a rumor in the 1960s about a town in Japan changing its name to Usa so that the products they exported to the USA would be labeled “Made in Usa.” The rumor was found untrue in later years.

The Rumor

In previous years, a trending story made its way on social media regarding a small manufacturing town in Japan that renamed itself to Usa. The story goes on that the town renamed itself to deceive the importers and ultimately its consumers to make an easy profit.

Snopes, a fact-checking website, debunked the trending story. Snopes verified that the rumor was untrue and traced its origin way back to the economic situation of Japan after the second world war. (Source: Komando)

Origin of the Rumor

Japan’s economy was crippled in the years after the second world war. Several towns and factories were destroyed or severely damaged after the infamous bombings the USA brought to Japan. In an attempt to rebuild their economy, the Japanese focused on manufacturing large quantities of inexpensive goods.

Japan exported many products to the USA and other countries that were not severely affected by the war. Since Japan was in the race to improve its economy, the exported products were of low quality most of the time. Soon after, the phrase Made in Japan symbolized cheap and shoddy goods.

Eventually, the rumor arose where it was thought that Japan wanted to avoid the stigma. The rumor further elaborated that the country renamed one of its towns, Usa, to legally label its products Made in Usa.

According to Snopes, the rumor was a tongue-in-cheek joke by someone noticing that there was a town named Usa in Japan. To further invalidate the rumor, the town of Usa, which was on the island of Kyushu, already possessed the name long before the second world war.

Also, in exporting products, the manufacturers must label their products with the country of origin, not the city or town where it was made. Besides, customs officers would notice Made in USA products being imported to the USA. That would have definitely raised flags for the customs inspectors. (Source: Snopes)

Usa, Japan

Usa City lies roughly 24 miles northwest of the prefectural capital Ōita. It is located in the northern part of Kyushu. The city was said to have been developed around the first and most famous shrines dedicated to the Shintō god Hachiman. It is believed that the Usa Hachiman shrine was established between 717-724.

The city’s industries include machinery, textiles, and rice products. It also produces vegetables and mandarin oranges. An annual festival is held every March 18 to commemorate the god Hachiman. The city also has a Shinkōsai festival, usually with a procession of portable shrines called mikoshi. It is held from July 31 to August 2. (Source: Britannica)

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