Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, speaks as Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, left, listens during a press conference regarding its creative director's comments about a well-known female celebrity, in Tokyo on Thursday. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool via AP
tokyo 2020 olympics

Tokyo Olympics hit by yet another scandal over demeaning comments

64 Comments
By STEPHEN WADE

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Maybe Taro Aso was correct! These games are doomed to fail!

Japan’s deputy prime minister has said the Tokyo Olympics are “cursed”, as speculation mounts that the Games will have to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taro Aso, who has a history of making gaffes, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the Olympics appeared to be blighted by world events every 40 years.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Correct me if I'm wrong, however it was my impression that Japanese people think SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Am I right? : ^ )

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Correct me if I'm wrong, however it was my impression that Japanese people think SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Am I right? : ^ )

Well, I guess there's been plenty of silence spreading and not looking good. I think the Olympics would have gone through if certain people just kept their mouths shut.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'm usually all for being more courteous and self-reflecting - but I'm not so sure about this one.

Watanabe-san has made her whole career about her weight - mimicking Beyonce, etc...

The suggestion by Sasaki actually sounds like something Watanabe herself would have dreamt up...

She is certainly ambitious - prior to the outrage, if this would have gotten her a spot in the Olympic opening ceremony, my guess is she would have been all for it...

9 ( +15 / -6 )

The suggestion by Sasaki actually sounds like something Watanabe herself would have dreamt up...

Oh, well in that case it's perfectly acceptable to call someone a pig.

/s

3 ( +11 / -8 )

I totally agree with lincolnman. I doubt she is even slightly upset about it and more than anything is grateful for the international exposure.

Waiiiiiit a minute....He worked for advertising in Dentsu, she just moved to the US to boost her international career. Call me cynical.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I know we live in a decade+ long winter but I don't think he quit just because of that comment. Maybe he's bailing from the failed to be Olympics?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I first thought that this was being overblown, given the context of Watanabe’s previous work. But the more I think about it, the more I understand how bad this was. Imagine if they had actually gone ahead with that Olympig idea. Even if Watanabe wasn’t personally insulted by it (I have no idea), it would have been a demeaning slap in the face to every overweight person watching.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Well mocking geinins about their physical appearance isn't new and generally accepted in Japan.

As said, many use it to get famous.

But now, facing the world, it become chocking ... make up your mind Japan !

9 ( +9 / -0 )

These scandals are opportunist distractions from a bigger truth - that the Olympics is on rocky ground.

just like all the protests and distractions last year were in the shadow of Covid pandemic

2 ( +4 / -2 )

creative director Hiroshi Sasaki resigned on Thursday 

think he might also have realized there is not much creative to direct. I’m sure he was given a list to use by “some”advertising firm. And his best option?

dress a woman in a pig suit.? Not really an appropriate look at an international event. A large group of dancing girls dressed as school children, creepy. A large group of girl men dancing, creepy. Two adults yelling at each other and slapping each other’s heads, doesn’t translate. Not really a lot to work with for an international audience.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Naomi Watanabe made a choice long ago to use her obesity as her sole comedy prop. Look at her weight gain over the past 5-6 years. Theres no doubt she and her management have done this on purpose and I can imagine manager-mandated, sumo-wrestler type eating sessions to make sure it happened.

Now suddenly fat jokes at her expense are off limits?

More signs that the fake outrage industry is making inroads to Japan unfortunately.

8 ( +20 / -12 )

Last year he suggested to planning staff members in online "brainstorming exchanges" that well-known entertainer Naomi Watanabe could perform in the ceremony as an "Olympig."

At least he did not suggest painting “Goodyear” down her sides and then floating her over Tokyo Dome.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I bet you some others in the meeting said after his pig comment. “ii desu ne! and others nothing as usual.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I doubt she is even slightly upset about it

That's not about her. The problem is another ossan highly paid for a global communication campaign (that's what the Olymps are) came out as a vulgar, anachronic, tone deaf, well stupid. He's doing it to Japan's image over the world.

Now suddenly fat jokes at her expense are off limits?

Jokes for the snack have always been off limits at the workplace (unless you work at the snack). You can laugh about nearly anything, but not everywhere nor with everybody.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Sigh. Please put this facade to an end!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japanese organizers did well with initial planning and organization

What? You think people have short memories? Two words.... Olympic Stadium!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Are all members of JOC don't have any social manners and are genetically stupid?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This pandemic combined with the upcoming Olympics are bringing under a spot light all the dark sides of the Japanese society around the world.

Unfortunatelly most Japanese live in their own bubble and timeline and this is one of the reasons why the can’t socialize by heart with the world community.

All these sexist and xenophobic behaviours are deeply routed in their society and it won’t change in the short time.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's bad enough they bribed their way into getting the 2020 Olympics, but after that scandal was long forgotten about, you'd think there would be an internal memo telling everyone on every related committee to keep their mouths shut going forward.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If you say something offensive or impolite, an apology is in order. But firing and blacklisting is only appropriate in societies like Stalinist Russia, North Korea or NAZI Germany.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Referring to Naomi Watanabe as an "Olympig" is the cutting edge of PR focused on promoting/selling, communicating a positive image of an Olympics that will managing client's/ sponsors image?

Get a life!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The guy who resigned was the Japan Olympics creative director just doing what the job entailed. Cancel culture is contagious.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Seems like the whole Olympics fiasco is seriously doomed now, with the despatch of another one of the old muppets - which is probably the source of his great inspirational suggestion, the fabulously charismatic Miss Piggy !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Resigning?

What panel, thought for one moment Hiroshi Sasaki was a appropriate choice in the first place?

Abe Shinzo masquerading as Super Mario must have set off the air raid sirens

3 ( +5 / -2 )

it would have been a demeaning slap in the face to every overweight person watching.

Isn't that what Japanese tv is like anyway?

Women on it are either eye candy who sit there and laugh at men's jokes without cracking any themselves or are comedy troupes made up of plain-looking or overweight object-of-ridicule types who ham up a role, such as the bossy one, the introverted bullied one, the goofy one, etc so that viewers can laugh at them, not with them. Just one example, but the Sunday prime time show ItteQ was recently criticized for putting "onna gei-nin" (i.e., the types I have described) on a frozen lake with thin ice so they would fall through it for laffs. This was only criticized for being dangerous - the basic idea of having plain-looking or overweight women as objects-of-ridicule, something Watanabe herself has happily done many times, is not questioned. There are no is no Japanese Tina Fey, an attractive woman who is also sassy enough to rip into any male costars.

Getting back to this incident, but the "Olympig" joke is completely tasteless and unfunny to English speakers. For people used to variety shows on commercial Japanese tv though, it is par for the course. If the opening ceremony is to be to international tastes, not Japan's, then we'll have to drop AKB, that cringeworthy "Paprika" song, and probably half the other stuff they have lined up. We'd be left with taiko drumming, some maiko dancing, and maybe a bit of kendama. There are great Japanese bands like Soil and PImp and Osaka Monaurail, but they'll never get the call.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I find Tokyo’s female Governor’s comment to be more insulting yet very true representation of the mindset of Japanese political elite, which is all about projection of a fake progressive country without actually changing a thing. I was hoping that as a rare female powerful politician she may comment on the underlying problem and not only about the perception of Japan overseas.

"When we are talking about what we deliver from Tokyo, or from Japan, we shouldn't be sending a negative message,"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is Naomi Watanabe now to be held accountable/responsible for creative director Hiroshi Sasaki witless, inane outburst?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Olympig" he is the type of person that loses a friend but not the joke... Lost opportunity of keeping to himself his not politically correct thought... And lost a well paid job.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We are watching the process of "The Natural Selection of the Species" (evolution). Soon there will be more women in leadership positions. Maybe each person who resigns under scandalous conditions should be given a "Darwin Award".

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Makoto Shimizu, who foots the bill for the well paid job?

That liability falls to the the tax payer, and the most venerable, families that can least afford it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So many gaffes in such a short time but only now the whole world gets to know about it!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But they have been buffeted by the pandemic

Did anyone see Covid 19 coming?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

""Hashimoto said in a Thursday news conference that she had accepted his resignation. She said a replacement would come quickly, and also indicated she had tried to persuade him to stay.""

This is why Japanese women causes will never advance in Japan, for as long women continue to accept the Status Quo and do NOTHING about it.

Ms. Hashimoto should be asking him to leave office immediately and NOT to stay.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As usual for Japanese, do something bad than say "sumimasen" and everything is fixed.

(In case of very bad thing "moushiwake gozaimasen" with a one minute bow is highly suggested)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There has to be a more positive outcome to this Olympics than taking a tape measure around Naomi Watanabe waist!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Seiko is a puppet . You can’t be sacked him soon with no think or ask someone !!

Did he resign really own will?

sounds stepping down but really what he did ?

About around sexist storm , the Tokyo games empty unoccupied feel ?

From 25 March starts up the torch relay. Any runner shows up a protest body language or remark to the JOC &Mr. Mori !! Focus on the runner’s response No silent!!

Using this chance , must protest & speak up essential !!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee , snouts in the trough; pigs to the slaughter.

...and they do it to themselves.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To much tax , huge amount of money wasted for this time furthermore .

One meaning is very symbolized word for Olympig !!

Who on earth pig ?

This thing is essence .

Mr. Sasaki was a pig ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

S H U T it D O W N ! Too much wasted money , too many scandals, not enough Sandals.

All run by Neanderthals . . . . . . . .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Honestly I don't see many problems, he resigned, end of story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It just keeps getting better!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This old man is just jelous that she is large and in charge..She is had more money than this old geezer will ever have. He is just an old, fraile jelous man!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"The IOC and Japanese politics are male-dominated territories," Dr Barbara Holthus, deputy director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo, told The Associated Press. "Japanese politicians have a long history of furthering gender inequalities - besides many other inequalities." Sums it up quite nicely, doesn't it?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Tokyo GovYuriko Koike called Sasaki's comments "extremely embarrassing,""

And that's why no one should ever take Koike seriously. She doesn't care that the man called Watanabe a pig, made fun of women, and made fun of people who are overweight -- she's upset because this got out and has embarrassed the name of Japan's Olympics again.

Again, she does not seem at all offended by WHAT he said, how he said it, or to whom it was addressed, but that it "sends a negative message about what Japan can deliver".

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Tired yet from all this smoking and joking about the sports event to be held in Toyko yet? I mean who reeeealy cares if its held or not and how runs the show. I don't care and we are forced to see some sort of news regarding this daily Bull SH. Let them have there olypics during a pandemic it will be historically be written as the worse onlypic of history in the Almanac records!! Ahahaha

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if he meant that the Olympics is like pigs eating up the money. Not the singer. And everyone else thinks he is referring to the singer? And it has been left as such and quit so nothing else can be discussed and leave us thinking deeper as to what he meant??

Just thinking.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And another one gets cancelled. His entire life will be summed up by this one incident.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

He's the Creative Director? What's creative about comparing a fat women to a pig? That should be the first indication that he's not up to the job as that's the kind of comment you'd expect from a 9-year old on the playground.

It doesn't matter whether or not Watanabe has made her living off of being fat. The majority of the world doesn't know that and many of them would find his comments offensive.

As for the moaning about "cancel culture", if a man can reach the age Sasaki has, 66, without realizing that his remarks were dumb and likely to offend, then he doesn't deserve the job. If you equate wanting someone who can do the job without needlessly offending people as "cancel culture" then I have one word for you - capitalism. The Olympics are about money and if you're going to cause offense and potentially lose money, you should be replaced. That's capitalism. Both the right and the left have called for boycotts of products, advertisers, etc. when they've been offended by or disagree with things said. This isn't a new thing and it's not a liberal thing unless you want to complete cancel history and facts.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It doesn't seem like a scandal. He said he was sorry. Nobody walks around in a state of perfection.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Oh boy! this is not going to well for Japan is it? its one mess followed by another mess, as for Japans credibility, its been servealy dented.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

...but isn't she a comedian whose schtick is the 'big goofy fat lady'?

Great. PC has taken root in Japan. They needn't copy everything from the West...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The Olimpics have put Japan on the spotlight longer than they wished. You can only fake it for so long before the true face shows. A ll in all Japan is a great place to live if you can ignore the passive aggressive, superiority meentality that permeates throughout many of its ignorant members of society.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The idea for the 'joke' was tasteless, unacceptable and perhaps a representation of Japanese societies cultural maturity, but has anyone noticed the price tag

Cost: $15 billion but suspected $30 billion

Revenue: $3.5 billion

This is not good business and since no overseas spectators will be visiting Japan there will be no immediate boost to the economy.

That is a lot of Yen that could have been spent on helping the Japanese economy and its people.

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics is the real pig and it is ready to slaughter after consuming so much Japanese tax payer money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is yet another example of the rampant sexism in Japanese society. Women should not have to tolerate this constant barrage of misogynistic comments coming from TV personalities, lawmakers, Olympic organizers, or anyone else, for that matter.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Despite the mostly, positive comments supporting her choice to movie the U.S., of course, there were the negative comments about her image, something she’s perfectly comfortable with. - “Naomi Watanabe moving to U.S.; switching base of operations to outside Japan“ - Mar. 3 -

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here we go:

bob Mar. 18 05:18 pm JST

Naomi Watanabe made a choice long ago to use her obesity as her sole comedy prop. Look at her weight gain over the past 5-6 years. Theres no doubt she and her management have done this on purpose and I can imagine manager-mandated, sumo-wrestler type eating sessions to make sure it happened.

Now suddenly fat jokes at her expense are off limits?

More signs that the fake outrage industry is making inroads to Japan unfortunately.

She did not agree to be made the butt of fat jokes that are aimed at demeaning her for her weight. Her humor is self-deprecating, meant to be fun and body-positive, showing that she accepts herself. That is a far cry from what happened here. Sasaki insulted her.

And I assure you, this is not "fake outrage". Women really and truly are sick and tired of hearing sexist comments from men. Well tired of it, in fact. And as you can see by the outcome of this incident, it's not being tolerated any longer. So perhaps it is time - long past time - to recognize the inherent misogyny and start respecting women.

Leo Today 02:49 am JST

It doesn't seem like a scandal. He said he was sorry. Nobody walks around in a state of perfection.

Most people manage not to say demeaning things about women. It doesn't take "perfection" not to be a horrible human being. You are setting the bar rather low, aren't you?

WolfpackToday 01:42 am JST

And another one gets cancelled. His entire life will be summed up by this one incident.

And whose fault is that, other than his own? If you voice misogynistic comments about a woman that you work on projects with, and you are fired for that, you deserve it. Hey, Mr. Sasaki! Meet the consequences of your own actions!

CaptDingleheimerToday 04:00 am JST

...but isn't she a comedian whose schtick is the 'big goofy fat lady'?

Great. PC has taken root in Japan. They needn't copy everything from the West...

All PC means is that we are asked to treat people with respect. I'm sorry that you think your fellow human beings don't deserve even basic respect.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is yet another example of the rampant sexism in Japanese society. Women should not have to tolerate this constant barrage of misogynistic comments coming from TV personalities, lawmakers, Olympic organizers, or anyone else, for that matter.

It seems to be partly due to the mechanisms of Japanese capitalism. I wondered why on TV females endure a barrage of insults from male "personalities" with no comebacks ( and the male personalities have many shortcomings to comment on) and I suppose it is because their income stream from their career is beholden to the same huge "talent agencies".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is yet another example of the rampant sexism in Japanese society. 

Sasaki insulted her.

Buahahaha. No, he didn't. She's chubby and she makes a career out of it. It was a simple inoffensive joke.

But the media knowing how the PC are always trying to find something to get offended by, they took this bone and made a parade out of it.

The joke was not even remotely sexists. He could have used Matsumoto Deluxe instead but he's not funny. Ah, wait a minute! Have he used Matsumoto on the joke, the PC would be now saying the he's homophobic and the whole gay community would be outraged everywhere. Because obviously if the person he used in the joke was gay, then it's obviously an offense to everyone who's gay. Same thing with Naomi and this thing being "misogyny."

0 ( +2 / -2 )

GarthgoyleToday 09:02 am JST

Buahahaha. No, he didn't. She's chubby and she makes a career out of it. It was a simple inoffensive joke.

Obviously a lot of people found it offensive.

But the media knowing how the PC are always trying to find something to get offended by, they took this bone and made a parade out of it.

PC means politically correct. It was born of the culture changing in a way that off-color, racist, and sexist jokes became unacceptable in society. So what you are really saying is "I am angry that it is no longer acceptable to make off-color, racist, or sexist jokes." What does that say about you? Maybe have a think about that.

The joke was not even remotely sexists. He could have used Matsumoto Deluxe instead but he's not funny. Ah, wait a minute! Have he used Matsumoto on the joke, the PC would be now saying the he's homophobic and the whole gay community would be outraged everywhere. Because obviously if the person he used in the joke was gay, then it's obviously an offense to everyone who's gay. Same thing with Naomi and this thing being "misogyny."

Ah ha! You actually DO understand - you're just upset because it's no longer acceptable in society to refer to fat women as "pig" or to make jokes about LGBTQIA. Again, you might want to reflect on why.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Wait, they added two more letters to the LGBTQr2D2 alphabet?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I kept wondering : why did not he suggest some sumo wrestler ? They are sport people. That could be a way to promote this sport around the world and get it as part of the olympig in the future. Some famed sumo wrestler dressed as a pig and descending from the sky then doing some sumo move. Everyone will love it, isn't it ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

GarthgoyleToday 02:04 pm JST

Wait, they added two more letters to the LGBTQr2D2 alphabet?

Ah, so you're not just sexist, you're also homophobic. Okay - noted.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If no foreign athletes, Japan would win all the medals!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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