Following Mori Yoshiro’s comments on Wednesday, February 3, that women talked too much during meetings and that their speaking time should be limited, the Olympic committee has received over 4,200 emails and 300 phone calls to complain about the head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. The controversy has also resulted in an online petition calling for Mori’s resignation that has collected over 140,000 signatures.
The outrage has been so loud and intense that even multiple embassies in Japan took to social media to speak about gender equality and refute Mori’s comments.
The sentiment is the same among the embassies involved: gender equality is important, and women should never be afraid to speak up and voice their opinions. Tennis superstar Osaka Naomi also said that Mori’s comments were ignorant as the news reached her in Melborune, where she is currently participating in the Australian Open.
One of the major things being discussed in regard to Mori’s role in the Olympics is that his sexist and misogynistic comments go against the spirit of the Olympic Games.
The scandal has reached such magnitudes that volunteers have decided not to participate anymore (though they have stated a wide variety of reasons as well), adding pressure to the committee as they continue planning the Summer Olympics during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, despite the many calls urging Mori to resign, prominent members of the Liberal Democratic Party like Nikai Toshihiro and Prime Minister Suga have backed Mori. Prime Minister Suga stated that Mori’s comments were “not desirable for national interests” before adding that any decisions regarding Mori should be done by the party that is actually involved with the Olympics. Suga’s comments have also garnered criticism because they show a weak leader doing close to nothing when denouncing sexism.
A smiling Mori apologized the day after his remarks but refused to step down. The committee also stated that, since Mori had apologized, the scandal should be over. Nevertheless, the fury and criticism has not stopped; instead, the scandal has traveled outside Japan and reached multiple newsoutlests.
Mori is no stranger to scandals. His brief tenure as Prime Minister was marked with controversies resulting from his actions, including failing to follow traditional Japanese protocols during former Prime Minister Obuchi’s funeral (despite other world leaders doing things correctly), making an AIDS joke, and drinking with a prominent Yakuza leader. With so many controversies inside his bag, and his perpetual unpopularity among the masses, it’s also surprising that he was appointed head of the Olympic committee.