What’s going on with Japanese men?: Tokyo Games creative head quits over ‘Olympig’ insult

Hiroshi Sasaki
Tokyo Olympics creative head Hiroshi Sasaki will resign after making derogatory comments about a female comedian

There is a probability that the Tokyo Olympics may be overshadowed by the increasing reckless rate at which Japanese men display their male chauvinism and hatred towards women, as it has been revealed that the creative chief has resigned after calling a female comedian an “Olympig”, in the latest setback for the Games.

Hiroshi Sasaki suggested having plus-size entertainer Naomi Watanabe appear at the opening ceremony wearing pig ears. He has apologised for his suggestions, calling it “a huge insult” to her, it comes after ex Games president Yoshiro Mori was forced to quit for making sexist remarks.

“There was a very inappropriate expression in my ideas and remarks,” Mr Sasaki said in a statement released through the Games organising committee. “I sincerely apologise to her and people who have felt discomfort with such contents.”

The 66-year-old, who is in charge of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, had made the suggestions involving Watanabe last year via a group chat on messaging app Line. The proposal was immediately rejected by his colleagues, who told him it was inappropriate.

Naomi Watanabe
Naomi Watanabe is one of Japan’s most well-known comedians

His resignation came shortly after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported his remarks on Wednesday. Organisers have said that current Games president Seiko Hashimoto plans to address the matter at a news conference on Thursday. Former Olympian and Japan’s ex-Olympics minister Ms Hashimoto was appointed Games president last month after Mr Mori sparked backlash when he said that women talk too much. He also said that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time”.

Since taking on the role, Ms Hashimoto has pledged to make gender equality a top priority at the Games, adding 12 female directors to the organising committee’s executive board.

Watanabe, 33, is one of Japan’s most famous comedians, and is known for her impersonations of popular artists. Outside of the country, she has also gained fame after appearing in shows such as Queer Eye: We’re In Japan! and for fronting international advertising campaigns for skincare company SK-II.

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