A Japanese comedy duo’s jokes about Naomi Osaka’s skin tone have prompted a swift apology from the pair and their management team.
Osaka, a native of Japan, defeated Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Sunday in the city of Osaka to secure the Pan Pacific Open title, her first singles title since winning the Australian Open in January.
Comedians: ‘She is too sunburned’
Later that day, the comedy duo “A Masso” remarked that Osaka “needed some bleach” and that “she is too sunburned” during a routine, Reuters reports.
Osaka, 22, was born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father.
The pair apologized through a statement on their management company Watanabe Entertainment’s website written by Ai Murakami, a member of the duo.
“Though we should have thought about it, we made remarks that hurt many people, something we will never do again,” Murakami wrote. “We sincerely apologize for making the specific person feel uncomfortable, as well as for everyone else connected to the event. We also sincerely apologize for causing trouble.”
The apology didn’t mention Osaka by name.
Watanabe Entertainment released a separate statement apologizing for “remarks inconsiderate of diversity in an era where diversity is respect,” in a note that also failed to mention Osaka by name.
Noodle company apologized for similar issue
This is not the first controversy in Japan regarding Osaka’s skin tone.
Noodle company Nissin, which sponsors Osaka, created an animated ad campaign featuring a cartoon rendering of Osaka with light skin and brown hair.
The company pulled the ads in January after an uproar over the depiction of Osaka and announced that it didn’t intend to “whitewash” the tennis star.
“We never had the intention to do what is known as ‘whitewashing,’ but with this becoming an issue, we will pay more attention to respect for diversity in our PR activities,” a spokesman said in response to the campaign being shelved.
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