Taiwan has rolled out 'angel' and 'devil' metro cards featuring a Japanese porn star, despite a public outcry and a previous decision to scrap the project.
Swipe card featuring the clothed adult star sold out within hours overnight.
Taiwan's EasyCard Corp. says on its website that it sold its full run of 15,000 card sets by 4 18 am Tuesday after phone orders started at midnight.
In this photo taken on Aug. 26, 2015, by the Central News Agency, two special edition swipe cards for Taiwan's mass transit are seen on display featuring the clothed image of 27-year-old, Japanese porn star Yui Hatano, in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP)
Actress Yui Hatano appears on a limited-edition charity series of Taiwan EasyCards, which users swipe to enter metro stations and buy goods at convenience stores.
"We will issue the 'devil' edition Yui Hatano cards beginning September 1 as originally planned," EasyCard Corp said in a statement earlier, referring to the sexier of the two cards. The softer 'angel' cards will be released after a change in theme after hearing "input from various parties", it said.
"We expect to launch the 'angel' edition cards in mid-September, following a redesign."
The stored value cards — also used for convenience store purchases — feature images of Yui Hatano, a 27-year-old Japanese woman who local media say likes Taiwan and wants to help the card company's charity donation scheme.
Critics campaigned against the cards, saying the images disrespect women and send inappropriate messages to children. Many stores declined to sell the cards, and the company ended up offering them via hotline only.
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, whose government is a 40 percent investor in the swipe card company, had asked that the cards avoid being "openly sold," such as at convenience stores or metro stations, deputy city spokesman David Huang said.
"The city government believes that because a controversy exists, there's no need to do this sale," Huang said Tuesday.
Taiwanese went for the cards because they look up to Japanese culture, one metro rider said. "It's culture worship, like when you're young and collect cards with cartoon stars like Doraemon," she said.
Japanese cultural icons commonly appear in children's books and on items such as stationery and smartphone cases. With nearly 3 million arrivals last year, Taiwanese rank as the top source of tourism to Japan, which was also its colonizer for five decades before the end of World War II.
The 15-year-old swipe card company, which has sold more than 20 million cards including co-branded editions, apologized online for the dispute and pledged to do an internal review of distribution procedures.
"EasyCard Corp. deeply apologizes for the setting off this massive public dispute," the company said in a statement on its website Tuesday. "In the future we will continue to strengthen public service and social responsibility."
Local media say proceeds from the $15.4 card set sales will go to charity. Company spokespeople were not available for comment.