This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
JAPAN is celebrating Naomi Osaka’s victory at the US Open, especially her array of corporate sponsors.
But like much of Japan, they are more muted in backing — or understanding — her campaign against racial injustice in the United States. Unlike the US, Japan has relatively few immigrants and has a generally lower level of awareness about racism — even at home.
Osaka was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, but moved to the United States when she was three and was raised there.
Before each of her seven US Open matches, she wore a mask with the names of black Americans who died as the victims of violence.
Osaka is expected to compete for Japan in next year’s Olympics and, like many athletes, may want to use that stage to deliver her message; in Osaka’s case, the Black Lives Matter campaign.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) prohibits displays of “political, religious or racial propaganda” on the Olympic medal podium under its so-called Rule 50. But many athletes are pushing for more rights to speak out at upcoming Olympics.
Some people lobbying for change have said “anti-racist” speech is not political speech.
Several of Osaka’s sponsors have been contacted to gauge their reaction. Forbes magazine listed her last year as the world’s richest female athlete with earnings of $37.4 million in the previous 12 months.
The reaction of Japanese watch-maker Citizen Watch Co was typical of the responses. The company declined to comment on the masks, but expressed delight in an official statement that the tennis star was wearing one of its products — a Naomi Osaka watch with a yellow band during the US Open.
Sports equipment manufacturer Yonex Co expressed support for Osaka’s feelings, while also stressing that she won her third Grand Slam using one of its rackets.
“National borders and racial discrimination should not exist in sports, and we are carrying out our business activities with hopes that everyone who takes part in sports around the world will have fun. We think Ms Osaka’s actions reflect our basic stance, and we respect her actions.”
Nissin Foods — the instant noodle maker — said Osaka’s third Grand Slam win underlined the spirit behind the company’s “Hungry to win” slogan, and looked forward to her participation in the Olympics.
But when asked about the masks and Osaka’s campaign against racial injustice, the spokesman declined comment calling it “her personal matter.”
Car maker Nissan Motor Co said it planned no statement.
Some response on Japanese social media has been negative, lashing out at Osaka. Of course, there has also been ample praise.
Negative outbursts against people who stand out can be common in Japan, where conformity and teamwork are valued, and individualism is often seen as selfish and unbecoming.
The statement from the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office made no reference to Osaka’s masks or any mention about racial injustice, saying on Twitter: “Congratulations. It was a full-set comeback from behind, and you never gave up till the end. Thanks for inspiring us.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.