Japanese noodle company Nissin is under fire for 'whitewashing' an advertisement that features tennis star Naomi Osaka.
The 2018 US Open winner is featured in the 90-second commercial as an anime character, alongside fellow Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori. The advertisement was illustrated by the well-known anime artist Takeshi Konomi, who is famous for his "Prince of Tennis" cartoon.
However, critics of the ad have alleged that the cartoon depicts Osaka, who is half Haitian and half Japanese, with lightened skin and caucasian-appearing features.
Baye McNeil, an African-American columnist who writes for the English-language Japan Times, said:
I’d been anticipating Osaka’s appearance since it isn’t often that a high-profile woman of color is featured in a major Japanese ad campaign.
So when I cued it up on YouTube I was truly disappointed to see that there was no woman of color to speak of in the commercial.
Instead, I found a whitewashed representation of Osaka.
American commentator Darryl Wharton-Rigby said that Nissin “blew it”.
Noodle maker Nissin responded that they had no intention of whitewashing the 21-year-old tennis star. Speaking to CNN, they said:
There is no intention of whitewashing.
We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.
indy100 has contacted Nissin for comment.