Japanese sponsor accused of 'whitewashing' Naomi Osaka

Japan's Naomi Osaka makes a backhand return to Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne Australia Monday Jan. 21 2019

Japan's Naomi Osaka makes a backhand return to Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova during their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne Australia Monday Jan. 21 2019

The New York Times reported on the fracas in a January 22 article titled, "Ad Showing Naomi Osaka With Light Skin Prompts Backlash and an Apology", saying, "The cartoon Ms. Osaka bears little resemblance to her real, biracial self".

Konomi said in his tweet that he drew pictures featuring Nishikori and Osaka at the request of Nissin under the project but was not involved in character designing for the anime.

Serena Williams reacts during an Australian Open quarter-final match against Karolina Pliskova, at Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Australia, on January 23, 2019.

Naomi Osaka, who is one of the most popular sportspersons in Japan, shot to fame a year ago when she toppled American tennis icon Serena Williams to win women's singles title at the US Open in September.

Nissin says it chose to take down the ad following the controversy and a request from Osaka's agent to do so.

"Maybe it's because they can't really pinpoint what I am", she said in 2016, "so it's like anybody can cheer for me".

A sponsor of Naomi Osaka apologised for a controversial portrayal of her in an advert but the woman herself is focusing exclusively on tennis. "They've apologized", Osaka said, per Sports Illustrated.

Daisuke Okabayashi, a spokesman for Japanese noodle-maker Nissin Foods Holdings, said Thursday that two animation clips, which went up earlier this month, were deleted from the company's online site Wednesday. The commercial depicted Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, with pale skin and light brown hair, which created public outcry.

Australian Open-Serena Wins
During the 2014 season, she made the semifinal at the Australian and French Opens and the final at Wimbledon . The 23-time Grand Slam victor is just one major tournament title off Margaret Court's all-time record.

The 2018 US Open victor is featured in the ad as an anime character for instant noodle giant Nissin, alongside fellow Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori.

Osaka's appeal has been growing in Japan since she beat Serena Williams in last year's US Open.

"She looks totally like a white woman in the ad", said Mr McNeil, who writes and lectures about the problem of race in Japan.

"There was no intention of whitewashing", a Nissin spokesperson by way of apology.

Baye McNeil, an American who has lived in Japan for more than a decade, said Japanese were often unaware of what might upset a global audience.

"They are not thinking on that level", McNeil said. A victory for Osaka would give her the number-one ranking in the world.

The campaign was drawn by manga artist, Takeshi Konomi, The Post noted.

Japan should be embracing her ethnicity, not trying to hide it.

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