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24 Jan, 2019 16:12

'I'm tan. It's pretty obvious': Naomi Osaka on 'whitewash' noodle ad row

'I'm tan. It's pretty obvious': Naomi Osaka on 'whitewash' noodle ad row

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka says she's staying focused on her upcoming Australian Open final after her sponsor Nissin was accused of "whitewashing" her skin tone in a commercial cartoon.

Instant noodle company Nissin featured Osaka alongside fellow Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori in an anime cartoon based on a manga series called "The Prince of Tennis."

But the depiction of Osaka with pale skin and Caucasian features led to the ad being criticized for "whitewashing" the half-Japanese, half-Haitian star.

Also on rt.com Japanese noodle giant apologizes for ‘whitewashing’ Naomi Osaka in anime ad

The backlash led to the ad being taken down, with Osaka commenting that she had spoken to the company and received an apology.

"I've talked to them. They've apologized," she said.

"I'm tan. It's pretty obvious. I don’t think they did it on purpose to be whitewashing or anything.

"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."

Osaka, 21, will face Petra Kvitova in Saturday's Australian Open final, and the Japanese youngster says she isn't letting the issue affect her preparation ahead of the match, where she will bid to capture her second Grand Slam title to join the US Open trophy she won in 2018.

"I'm just focused on this [final] right now," she said.

"I've gotten to the final of a slam, and that's sort of my main priority."


Following the news, Nissin spokesman Daisuke Okabayashi spoke to CNN and admitted the company needed to be more sensitive.

"There is no intention of whitewashing," he said.

"We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issues in the future."