Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning the US Open final Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
tennis

Osaka's third Grand Slam, anti-racism stand, hailed in Japan

26 Comments
By MATTHEW STOCKMAN

Naomi Osaka's victory in the U.S. Open was hailed Sunday by media and officials in Japan, who broadly welcomed her campaigning for victims of racial injustice and against police brutality.

Public broadcaster NHK broke into its regular news program to flash the news of the 22-year-old's latest Grand Slam triumph, after she beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to add to winning the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open.

"Osaka achieved the feat of winning a record third title in the Grand Slam singles as an Asian player," said the daily Nikkan Sports.

Japan's men's tennis number one Kei Nishikori, who withdrew from the U.S. Open after a positive coronavirus test, congratulated his fellow player on her triumph -- tweeting a string of emoticons of likes, muscles and Japanese flags.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is scheduled to step down this week due to health problems, tweeted: "Congratulations on your second win at the U.S. Open. Thank you for the sensation. I hope you will continue playing outstandingly."

Media and supporters also backed 22-year-old Osaka's protest against racism on and off the court.

"The victory embodied the feeling of bereaved families who hope to prevent a repeat of tragedies and change society," the Mainichi Shimbun daily said.

Osaka walked onto the court before the final wearing a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy who was shot dead by a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.

Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage, wore different masks for each of her seven matches in the tournament, honouring victims of racial injustice and police brutality.

"She is brave. I'm proud of her," Osaka's 75-year-old grandfather, Tetsuo Osaka, told reporters of her stand.

Fumio Kishida, one of three candidates to succeed Abe, tweeted: "I respect her as she fought it out and showed the best result, bringing up the importance of diversity to the world. I'm greatly encouraged."

But the Mainichi daily reported mixed reactions from some sponsors in Japan.

"I don't think she needed to do that while she's fighting her way to the top. If possible, we'd like her to attract more attention with her tennis skills," said a source linked to a Japanese corporate sponsor of Osaka's, according to the daily.

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26 Comments

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Media and supporters also backed 22-year-old Osaka's protest against racism on and off the court.

Naomi is a champion on and off the court!

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

And the accolades continue for Naomi.

She's a champion both on and off the court, and has no fear of addressing social issues both in and outside of Japan in regards to race. Many Japanese embrace who you are regardless.

Good for you, Naomi, keep on fighting the good fight, and don't let the naysayers get you down.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

I would love to see Naomi Osaka focus more on social injustice inside Japan.

After nearly 30 years in Tokyo, I recently sold my house, downsized, and started renting. In my case, about 20% of owners would not accept an application from a non-Japanese — regardless of my financial status, employment status, residency status, or Japanese ability.

7 ( +16 / -9 )

Naomi-chan is an inspiration to all Japanese, and speaking out against racism gives her strength. Black lives DO matter, and if she has been able to get that message out in the USA - where black children, women and men are being killed by racist police brutality - she has done a great job off the court.

1 in 20 Japanese born today have foreign ancestry, and that will keep increasing, and Naomi-chan is proof that multicultural Japanese can do anything. Regardless of the bashers who claim they have to "speak fluent Japanese", look a certain way or live in Japan.

You go girl! Keep speaking out and become the G.O.A.T.!

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

I would love to see Naomi Osaka focus more on social injustice inside Japan.

This exact same point was made in a previous topic about Naomi, and a simple online search shows that she has spoken out about the racism and social issues people like her have experienced in Japan:

https://www.essentiallysports.com/tennis-news-wta-naomi-osaka-tears-into-existence-of-racism-in-japan/

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/aug/25/naomi-osaka-reflects-on-challenges-of-being-black-and-japanese

There's absolutely no reason why a superstar like Naomi can't speak out in support of victims of systemic racism and injustice in America, because those are universal themes regardless of country whether America or Japan (and she has spent time growing up in America as a young girl). Let us all stop nit-picking and appreciate that a celebrity is using her status as a platform for a cause that is greater than professional sports.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

It sure would be nice if osaka would talk about social problems in japan. Sure would be refreshing to see.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

"I don't think she needed to do that while she's fighting her way to the top. If possible, we'd like her to attract more attention with her tennis skills," said a source linked to a Japanese corporate sponsor of Osaka's, according to the daily.

To do what?

What is ‘that’?

Which ‘corporate’ sponsor?

Something is not being translated here and makes no sense at all.

Is it not newsworthy to report which companies want to control Osaka’s behavior?

4 ( +9 / -5 )

It doesn’t seem that Osaka is being hailed for anything other than winning a tournament...

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Respect. Osaka by her very existence represents the depth of complexity in defining race and nationality and equality and fairness. I hope she successfully sparks many deep and meaningful discussions about racism here, in Japan, and around the world, and may those discussions lead to enlightened policies and legislation.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

"I don't think she needed to do that while she's fighting her way to the top. If possible, we'd like her to attract more attention with her tennis skills," whined a source... Like winning the US Open or something, you mean?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Has she officially withdrawn her US citizenship yet?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Has there ever been a Japanese athlete or celebrity before Naomi to speak out against racism or other political/social justice issues? I'm assuming there hasn't as most Japanese are afraid of upsetting the apple cart and perhaps letting down their sponsors who prefer spokespeople that don't speak out against anything. That said, Naomi can afford to speak out as she can always jump ship and live in the US, but so far most Japanese support her stance.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I would love to see Naomi Osaka focus more on social injustice inside Japan.

She is a black woman who just claimed a sports victory for Japan. In that alone, with the help of the overly enamored news media, she has already done more to help Japanese truly accept and value other races than all the non-Asian people on Japanese comedy and talk shows combined. By shaming America rather than Japan, she gives Japanese reasons to feel pride that their cops are not gunning people down on the basis of race. That sort of awareness may very well begin to have an effect on racial discrimination in renting apartments etc. Imagine some landlord turning down a black woman out of hand and his wife turns to him and says, "What if she is the next Naomi Osaka? Or the mother of the next Naomi Osaka? What if she is a friend of Naomi Osaka?" Yes, its all not very likely, but it is the way people think.

If she instead confronted the situation directly, she would shame the Japanese and she would only lose influence by doing that. I think she is more help than you may realize.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Naomi Osaka is a true and a great ambassador for tennis, sports, and life. She wins matches, trophies, and the hearts of countless lovers of life worldwide. Fellow athletes, footballers, tennis icons, cricketers, golfers, hockey wizards, basketball stars, fans, match officials, tournament organizers, and the common folk have finally found a role model to admire and emulate. The young US Open winner is living her American dream on and off the court. Good going for Japanese sports on the world stage.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

I need to back up. She is Asian and black mix. I am not a sports fan so I never paid attention to her before. Her mixed status needs to be recognized at all times, just as it should have been with so many others. I hope people will stop making the mistake I just did.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Hmmm. I wonder now that she is a Japanese citizen is Naomi going to speak up about racism in Japan. I'm not holding my breath....

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Hats off to you, Ms. Osaka,; both for your athletic prowess (I couldn’t help but notice that your 1st serve speed rivals the men), and for using your platform, your voice to address real issues in a positive way.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Enjoy while it lasts Japan because in just over a month she will have to chose between Japan or the USA.

Mo dual citizenship in Japan and before she turns 23 she will have to decide and now with her success, Japan's higher taxation and the fact she doesn't even live here it will be surprising if she continues to play as a Japanese, she can barely speak Japanese.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Has she officially withdrawn her US citizenship yet?

There is no requirement for her to do so. She only has to declare an intention to do so, no requirement to follow through.

Mo dual citizenship in Japan and before she turns 23 she will have to decide and now with her success, Japan's higher taxation and the fact she doesn't even live here it will be surprising if she continues to play as a Japanese, she can barely speak Japanese.

She's already followed through with her legal requirement of declaring an intent to give up her American citizenship. I would be surprised if she followed through though. Regardless, she is and will be Japanese.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Enjoy while it lasts Japan because in just over a month she will have to chose between Japan or the USA.

From the NYTimes:

“The Justice Ministry estimates that about 890,000 Japanese citizens may also hold foreign passports, and the government has never revoked Japanese citizenship from anyone who, like Ms. Osaka, was granted citizenship at birth.”

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Hmmm. I wonder now that she is a Japanese citizen is Naomi going to speak up about racism in Japan. I'm not holding my breath....

Doubt it, considering she has barely lived in Japan

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Birthplace has nothing to due with Japanese citizenship. Japan is a jus sanguinis nation. Citizenship is transferred through family nationality and not the geography of birthplace.

She lives in Japan? She lives in a $7 millionBeverly Hills mansion she bought last year just before her birthday.

I don't believe she has Japanese citizenship any more. She had to complete this within one month after her birthday last year, or she forfeited her right to choose Japanese citizenship.

Japan does not allow dual citizenship, so she had renounce her American citizenship to choose Japanese citizenship. She has not renounced her US citizenship, obviously, since she is residing in the US. She would have had to leave the US, having no visa or legal right to work or live there.

Her name does not appear on the Federal Register as having renounced American citizenship and all names are required by law to appear.

Something is not right. The press reports say she gave up US citizenship 9which she has not), but they appear to just parrot what she said she would do with any fact checking.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Let us all stop nit-picking and appreciate that a celebrity is using her status as a platform for a cause that is greater than professional sports.

She will not be playing sports forever but she can use her face to break down racial/discrimination boundaries. After all, Billy Jean King became an icon for women tennis champs and later lesbians in sports.

Osaka is mixed race and it's obvious. She can be an advocate right now for diversity and for fighting prejudices. And that's something she can champion all her life long after she is done with tennis for good.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What does "advocating diversity" mean? Diversity simply is and doesn't require advocation.

A society, a sailboat and a bicycle for two are better served by having common, non-diverse goals.

She said last year that she was relinquishing her US citizenship, but that has turned out to not be true.

Limousine liberals who advocate from behind the gates of luxury usually end up a lot of backlash.

Is her "advocating" a personal publicity move? Saying other Japanese have secret, illegal dual citizenship so it's okay doesn't make her a symbol of anything other than hypocrisy.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

She said last year that she was relinquishing her US citizenship, but that has turned out to not be true.

Prove it

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Prove it

The names of all people who relinquish US citizenship are listed in the Federal Register by law. She is not listed.

Here are the quarterly reports:

https://www.federalregister.gov/quarterly-publication-of-individuals-who-have-chosen-to-expatriate

She is not listed on any report.

She would not be living or working in the US if she relinquished citizenship, since she would not have a visa and the only prejudice she faces would be her ability to obtain one as an expatriated citizen.

Anything else I can help you with?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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