Japanese noodle giant apologizes for ‘whitewashing’ Naomi Osaka in anime ad
Japanese ramen-maker Nissin, which sponsors tennis star Naomi Osaka, has apologized for ‘whitewashing’ the player’s skin tone in an anime ad which triggered a massive backlash from fans.
The company's "Hungry to Win" Cup Noodle advertisement, which featured Osaka as an anime character with light brown hair and pale skin, drew criticism for not being an accurate depiction of the player, who has Haitian roots.
Born to a Haitian-American father and Japanese mother, Osaka moved to the US with her family at the age of three.
The 21-year-old shot to fame last season after sensationally winning her maiden Grand Slam at the US Open, beating Serena Williams in the final.
The ad, which was illustrated by Japanese anime artist Takeshi Konomi, famous for his "Prince of Tennis" cartoon, drew fury on social media, with many users accusing the company of disrespectfully "whitewashing" Osaka.
@Naomi_Osaka_ Im a fan of you, Cup Noodle and Prince of Tennis but this ad got me feeling some type of way. Just wanted to share in case you didn't see how @konomi_takeshi and @cupnoodle_jp got you whitewashed out here.https://t.co/2hw3iSqtmUhttps://t.co/355GWyc4QLpic.twitter.com/FaIbPTpWqG— Martino Brown (@PButici) January 12, 2019
I just saw that Nissin noodle ad where they drew Naomi Osaka as white to make her look ‘desirable’ and I’m disappointed but I’m 200% not surprised. Just like how they cut miles without the spider mask out from the jp commercial. Japan does not like black people. Water is wet. 😶— azealia🍌🐟 (@neonfloe) January 23, 2019
This anime ad really white washed Naomi Osaka....don’t erase her identity— 🌸Lolita Luna🌙 (@Lolitas_Love) January 23, 2019
According to a Japanese noodle maker this White girl here is Naomi Osaka. They completely erase BOTH her Blackness and her Japanese features. That is the insanity of internalizing white supremacy. pic.twitter.com/VTZcqQ07GZ— Ms♀️⛪🌻 (@SimplyThandeka) January 23, 2019
Osaka, who was featured in the ad together with fellow Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori, hasn’t commented on the controversy surrounding the cartoon.
Responding to the backlash, Nissin apologized for presenting a light-skinned version of the player, vowing “to pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.”
“There was no intention of whitewashing,” a Nissin spokesperson said by way of apology. “We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.”Also on rt.com ‘She was robbed!’: Serena Williams fans blame umpire for quarterfinal loss at Australian Open