Nike Japan Ad Garners Praise and Outrage

The video explores racism and bullying in Japan
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2020 6:35 PM CST
Nike Japan Ad Garners Praise and Outrage
A soccer ball.   (Getty Images)

Another day, another controversy—this one brought to you by Nike Japan. A video posted on the company's Twitter feed shows three teenage girls of different backgrounds facing discrimination or bullying. One is Japanese, one Korean, and one has a Black father and Japanese mother. Each faces unique challenges until they are ultimately "united by their desire to confront their problems and prove themselves through their love of football," the Guardian reports. While the video has racked up tens of thousands of likes (along with descriptions like "amazing" and "powerful"), it has upset others: One commenter said, "Is Japan really such a country full of discrimination? It feels like you’re creating a false impression of Japan."

Another remarked that "Nowadays, you often see one or two people of different nationalities going to school perfectly peacefully." Some commenters also vowed to stop buying the company’s products, the Japan Times reports. The Guardian notes that, while Japan is a "relatively homogenous society," developments like the success of mixed-race athletes there "are challenging old ideas about what it means to be Japanese." One is tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father is Haitian. Sill, notes Al Jazeera, while sports fans have embraced Osaka, she has faced challenges based on her racial identity. Nissin, one of her sponsors, once depicted her as a cartoon character with pale skin and light brown hair, and a standup comedy act said she "needed bleach." (More Japan stories.)

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