Apologetic Nissin removes ‘racial’ commercial featuring Naomi Osaka

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Japanese food brand Nissin was forced to remove its controversial commercial at the Australian Open that depicted tennis star Naomi Osaka with pale skin and light brown hair.

The commercial,  depicting Osaka with pale skin and light brown hair in the trademark style of Japanese manga has led to wild public outcry. The Japanese tennis star is born to a  Haitian father and Japanese mother.

Osaka has been endorsing the brand for several years.

The video ad campaign, which is said to be based on a manga and animation series called ‘The Prince of Tennis’ and apparently approved by Osaka’s agent, went live earlier in the month. It also included animations of Japanese men’s singles player Kei Nishikori.

Following the outrage, Osaka had urged her sponsors to remove the advertisement and consult with her about the way they use her image.  Osakas intervention led to withdrawal of the advert accused of ‘whitewashing’. 

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“I’ve talked to them. They’ve apologised,” Osaka said. “I’m tan. It’s pretty obvious. But I definitely think that the next time they try to portray me or something, I feel like they should talk to me about it.”

Daisuke Okabayashi, a spokesman for Nissin Foods Holdings, confirmed that two animation clips, which went up earlier this month, were deleted from the company’s website on Wednesday. 

“We as a company put human rights first, and our stance of valuing diversity is unchanged,” he said in a telephone interview. “Whitewashing has never been our intention.” 

Okabayashi said the ads had prior approval from Osaka’s agent. Nissin became Osaka’s corporate sponsor in November 2016.

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