TOKYO: A Nike Japan video ad featuring biracial athletes and other minorities. For example, those of Korean descent, against bullying and racism has sparked a sharp online reaction. It includes calls to boycott the company.
Japan has historically prided itself on being racially homogeneous. Although that reputation is challenged by prominent mixed-race athletes such as tennis star Naomi Osaka.
Released on Nov 30, the ad, “Keep Moving: Yourself, the Future,” shows many teen girls harassed for their race or other differences in school, but who eventually find confidence through football prowess.
One scene shows a girl whose father is black, squealing and pulling her hair, surrounded by fellow students.
The video, viewed 14.1 million times by noon (0300 GMT) Wednesday on Nike Japan’s Twitter feed, had racked up 63,000 likes. However, it also a cascade of negative comments from many who vowed never to purchase Nike products again.
You always see, nowadays, one or two people of various nationalities going to school in complete harmony. “The one that is biassed is Nike,” one user named “hira1216” wrote.
Is blaming Japan so much fun?
While Osaka, which counts Nike as a sponsor and makes a cameo appearance in the commercial, has been praised by Japanese sports fans, she was once portrayed as a cartoon character by another sponsor, Nissin, with fair hair and light brown hair, while a comedy duo said she needed some bleach.
Nike Japan could not comment on the reaction immediately. However, said on its website that it believes in the transformative essence of sports.
“We’ve been listening to minority voices for a long time, supporting and speaking for causes that fit our values,” it said.
“We believe that sports have the power to demonstrate what a better world looks like to bring people together and promote action in their respective communities.”
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