Japan: Outrage over advert ‘outdated’ claim of gender equality debate

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An advertisement by a TV network in Japan has sparked outrage for claiming the debate over gender equality is “outdated”, in an apparent misunderstanding of the whole message it intend to convey.

Outcry on social media with people calling out the channel for seemingly defending a culture of sexism forced the television network, TV Asahi, to apologise and issue what it called a clarification about the advertisement.

The advertisement in question was released on Monday. It featured a woman facing the camera asking: “When you see some politician campaigning for ‘gender equality’ like a slogan – it feels so outdated, don’t you think?”

It soon stirred a debate on social media, as many criticised the channel for undermining the efforts of activists and those who are fighting for gender quality in a country that has recently witnessed repeated scandals over controversial remarks on such issues.

“I can’t understand how anyone can make an advert saying that gender equality is outdated in an age when we are trying to change,” Mizuho Fukushima, an opposition party lawmaker said on Twitter.

The broadcaster took the advertisement down and issued a statement saying: “We take it seriously that there were people who were offended by this advert, and extend our apologies to them.”

They clarified that they intended to convey that it is outdated to just talk about gender equality and it is now time to take actions to achieve it.

The latest controversy comes a month after the country got embroiled in a public row over sexism, forcing former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to step down as Tokyo Olympics chief. Mr. Mori came under fire for saying female members of the Japanese Olympic Committee talk too much, prompting international outcry and calls for his resignation.

Japan has the largest gender gap among advanced economies, ranking 121st out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

According to 2018 data, representation of women in politics remains extremely low with only 10% of lawmakers being women – the lowest figure among G20 nations.

The country also named the winner of the “most sexist comment of the year” this month, with the award going to a woman politician of the ruling party, Mio Sugita, who has a history of making incendiary remarks about women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Mr. Mori placed second in the online poll organised by a group of Japanese academics and activists. (Source: The Independent)

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