Photo: YouTube/Nike Japan
sports

Naomi Osaka slams reporters who ask her to speak in Japanese in new Nike ad

32 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Since winning the Australian Open and the U.S. Open against her idol Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka has taken the top-spot in the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, becoming the first Asian to hold the top spot in either men’s or women’s tennis.

Her success has brought her a lot of attention from the media, particularly in Japan, where her love of katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowls) and her half-Haitian, half-Japanese background remains a solid talking point. And one thing Japanese reporters can’t stop themselves from doing is asking her to answer their questions in Japanese.

After shutting down these reporters in the past, Osaka is now returning to address them and all others like them, with a new commercial for Nike. In the ad, she slams back at all the insensitive and impertinent questions that get served to her during interviews, and has just one word to silence them all.

Take a look at the ad below:

In the clip, Osaka can be seen on the court, showing off her strong playing style as a volley of questions roll by. There’s “Who’s your biggest rival?”, “Are you a hard court specialist?” and “Do you consider yourself Japanese or American?”

Then there are a few questions in Japanese, including “What are you going to buy with your prize money?”, “Can you answer in Japanese?” and “Will you eat katsudon again today?”

naomi-osaka-nike-commercial-tennis-ad-sports-sportswoman-japan-japanese-reporters-katsudon-food-sport-haitian-media-13.png

naomi-osaka-nike-commercial-tennis-ad-sports-sportswoman-japan-japanese-reporters-katsudon-food-sport-haitian-media-10.png

Then, at the end of the ad, Osaka turns to the camera and has just one thing to say in response to all those questions.

▼ “Shhhh.“

naomi-osaka-nike-commercial-tennis-ad-sports-sportswoman-japan-japanese-reporters-katsudon-food-sport-haitian-media-3.png

In true Nike style, the clip delivers a strong message at the end: “Don’t change yourself. Change the world.”

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It’s a message that fits in nicely with Osaka’s public image, as a woman who continues to do her own thing while drowning out all the stereotypical questions from the media who want to place her in neat, narrow-minded boxes.

And judging from the reaction online in Japan, it’s a message a lot of Japanese people agree with too.

“What a fantastic ad! I hope everyone sees this.”

“Some of the questions in English are annoying but the Japanese questions are even more annoying.”

“Such a great insight into what she has to deal with every day.”

“Japanese reporters need to watch this ad.”

“The Japanese media need to have more respect for her as an elite sportswoman.”

The Nike ad has definitely got everyone talking, and while it takes a different approach to one of her previous ads for Japanese brand Nissin, it’s definitely a step up from the controversial ad that whitewashed her appearance.

It’ll be interesting to see if this new commercial will have any effect on the types of questions reporters plan to throw at Osaka next time she does a round of interviews. Hopefully they’ll reign in the talk about katsudon and her ethnicity, and focus on her contribution to the world of sport, because as the star tennis player has said in the past, regardless of her dining preferences, background, and language ability, “I’m just me.”

Source, images: YouTube/Nike Japan

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Naomi Osaka shuts down reporter who asked her to speak in Japanese following Australian Open win

-- Japanese reporters’ lame questions to tennis star Naomi Osaka embarrass netizens

-- Naomi Osaka stirs up debate about what it means to be Japanese following U.S. Open victory

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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"  A nihon daihyou who can't/won't conduct an interview in Japanese in Japan? It's a legitimate complaint."

Complain why? They approved of her because of her ability, they wanted her. Did they language test her as part of the process?

The objections people have to the questions she is asked is the passive-aggression with which they are asked, and sometimes the downright silliness of them. How many times can they ask her if she ate katsudon that day, or is she planning to, before it gets old? I don't even watch the sports segment of the news that often and have seen it 8-10 times. Why are they so amused by it that they have to ask her in nearly every interview? Are Americans not supposed to like katsudon? Are women not supposed to eat katsudon?

How freakin' rude is it to ask a question at a news conference, and then have multiple people yell, 'Nihongo de!!'. When she answers in her rudimentary Japanese, her answers are played back all morning the next day on the wide shows while the talking heads all giggle. Each reporter now has the goal of trying to force her to say something in Japanese, so they can get their own 'cute' soundbite for their own programs/articles. If she is representing Japan well, and winning, and seems to be a nice person, why the elementary school-level bullying and mocking of her Japanese? Such a lack of gratitude. She is part Japanese and not enough of a Japanese to them, so they take snide digs at her. I think it's pretty childish.

Don't you think it's utterly ridiculous that every celebrity, from Tom Cruise to politicians have interviews consisting of 'So do you like Japan?' and 'What is your favorite Japanese food?'

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Additionally, there have been plenty of Japanese baseball players who had long careers in the United States, and never spoke a word of English in any interview, ever. Granted, they weren't "representing" the country in the way that Osaka is. But they weren't constantly harassed for it in the way that Osaka is by the J-media.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I think the more this kind of thing happens the better.

too many Japanese people believe foreigners/half people are some kind of circus attraction, not to be taken seriously. it's irritating on the surface of it, but downright infuriating when you're faced with it in serious situations with real consequences be they financial or whatever else.

if it takes a few famous athletes or actresses telling reporters and clueless Island mindset people to shut up, so be it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Athletes like to be asked stuff related to playing their sport

They don't like to be repeatedly asked stuff unrelated to playing their sport (every now and then is fine, but not constantly)

So ask them about playing their sport

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I'm sure all her tennis playing prowess is due to her Japanese DNA. (rolls eyes)

7 ( +13 / -6 )

This commercial is brilliant . Without a word it says everything.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

USNinJapan2: Fluency in Japanese is a fundamental condition of being Japanese.

What a ridiculous statement. You should look into the complexities of immigration and identity (which aren't limited to Japan, either) before making such shallow generalizations.

Osaka's doing just fine. Great ad. No sympathy for the short-sightedness silliness or ethnocentrism of the Japanese media.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Himajin: "Don't you think it's utterly ridiculous that every celebrity, from Tom Cruise to politicians have interviews consisting of 'So do you like Japan?' and 'What is your favorite Japanese food?'

Bingo! It's the inferiority complex and need to be loved -- somewhat similar to Trump, actually -- in full play, and if you criticise it... well! I heard a woman brag about how proud she was Trump loved Sumo, as an example of the misplaced sense of entitlement and feelings of pride, and I have heard it over and over again with Naomi, too. Wouldn't it be grand if they spent less time worrying what others think about them and actually just had the confidence to accomplish something they SHOULD be proud of? Naomi should threaten the reporters of a walkout in the interview if they shout "Nihongo de!" again, because you're absolutely right -- they just want to be to talk about "How great that she is trying our language! I'm so proud! Maybe she can even use chopsticks!"

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Is it really surprising that she is behaving the way she is? She's found success outside of Japanese society that is oppressive, discriminatory and sexist. She isn't willing to play along with this degrading bs. Did Ichiro tell you he eats katsudon to end every interview?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I hope it contributes to make things change on the dual citizenship.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good on her for shutting down these crackpot reporters. If she wants to speak Japanese, let her, but since she's NOT Japanese (identifies as American), and wants to speak English, her native tongue, she should be allowed to do so. She is not a zoo animal for their entertainment, even though that's how they view a lot of foreigners (intentional or not).

5 ( +5 / -0 )

She put them in their place, all the way back to the 1950s where they belong

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@FizzBit--do you think the fan backlash will be about the same as the backlash to Colin Kaepernick being hired as a Nike advertising figure, in other words a plus for the company?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Nice idea for an ad. Nike has some creative marketers.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I eat natto. Do I also get brownie points?

The reasons why people talk about her are really shallow. Katsudon, really???!!!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

this will really annoy viewers ‘cause Japanese people really hate to be shhh’d!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Keep speaking English Naomi ( Nay-yomi ). No need to speak Japanese.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

She can say "Shhh" because she's got money and fame now. Pretty much the way it works in the world. If an average Joe/Jane, no.

Can you move to Japan, not speak Japanese and just tell people "shhh" when they ask why you aren't using Japanese at the office?

Kinda the same when I see celebrities on tv espousing how they would love to move to Japan one day. Of course, because as a celeb, nobody is going to require you to use Japanese. Money and fame will make language not necessary (and a hired translator).

1 ( +13 / -12 )

I agree with her sentiments. Mentally challenged sports pundits are forever asking the most banal questions. She should just give them the bird.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fluency in Japanese is a fundamental condition of being Japanese. How can you represent a nation if you can't even speak its language? A nihon daihyou who can't/won't conduct an interview in Japanese in Japan? It's a legitimate complaint.

I agree. When Bobby first came to Japan, I saw the guy with a translator next to him, couldn’t speak a word of Japanese, now a few years later, the guy speaks very well is on a lot of comedy shows. The Japanese language is not that difficult of a language to learn how to speak. She’s got the money and resources to do if she really put in a little bit of time and effort. Not to much to ask for.

We're not talking about immigration in other countries or Japanese players overseas. If you can't speak Japanese, you are not Japanese. Period. You cannot remove the language from the culture of this country and its national identity.

Yup, nothing to add to that.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wish her well but there is enough going on in this world. I'm glad I gave up on following sports and instead concentrated on reading history and spending more time with my family..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lol. I love it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In short,she's Japanese when she wins and American when she loses.Maybe not to young people,but to the older generation for sure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do the author here, or the many commenters not realize that the ad was not mainly about being asked to speak Japanese? It was one example of the many silly, or irrelevant questions she is asked by the western and Japanese press. Her "shh" at the end was not directly at one questioner or another, but just a metaphorical "shh" to let her play do the talking. Of course they included that question for a reason, but it's not the sole or main focus of the ad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Q: "Can you answer in Japanese?"

A: "Hai!"

THAT would have been more provocative than "shhh!",

which, IMnsHO, was poorly acted and not a big deal,

since she was asking for silence as any tennis player on court would.

Much ado about nothing, except, of course, to get free publicity for the sponsor.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

When she won US Open, not only the media but also the Internet was full of sneaky comments. The most disgusting thing was about her racial identity. The people those who've never cheered her up to that moment weren't satisfied with her being a member of team Japan and commented that she should become an American citizen or should be naturalized in Haiti. This AD shows how the voices of such sneaky people are meaningless.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Athletes like to be asked stuff related to playing their sport

They don't like to be repeatedly asked stuff unrelated to playing their sport (every now and then is fine, but not constantly)

I understand that. But pro athletes need to understand that they are essentially entertainers. They receive a lot of money to play a game they like that entertains a lot of people. And as entertainers, personality and back stories are part of their marketability. If not for their entertainment value, pro athletes would be playing their sports on weekends for fun and making a living the rest of the week in some other job.

So personal questions are part of the job. If she doesn't like it, she can quit and become a tennis coach at some club.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Two Major Cups, That's all for her career. Just two.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

@ USNinJapan

If you can't speak Japanese, you are not Japanese. Period. You cannot remove the language from the culture of this country and its national identity.

What a real nonsense. Naomi-chan is Japanese. She has a Japanese passport to prove it. She was born in Japan. Her mother is Japanese. So far, she won 2 Major Titles under flag of Japan. Who cares if she is not perfect in Japanese language. She is Japanese whether people like it or not. Thank-you Nike for this CM. What a great advertisement. I will buy Nike sportswear now and support them like they support Naomi-chan.

Go Go Naomi-Chan at French Open! Go for yet another Major, and show the haters!!

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Fluency in Japanese is a fundamental condition of being Japanese. How can you represent a nation if you can't even speak its language? A nihon daihyou who can't/won't conduct an interview in Japanese in Japan? It's a legitimate complaint.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

The Original Wing

We're not talking about immigration in other countries or Japanese players overseas. If you can't speak Japanese, you are not Japanese. Period. You cannot remove the language from the culture of this country and its national identity.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Dumb commercial. So now she’s on top with Nike dollars in her pocket, we’ll see what the fan backlash will be. Bad move.

-19 ( +3 / -22 )

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