Nissin takes down ad after complaints on Osaka's depiction

Nissin takes down ad after complaints on Osaka's depiction
Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts after losing a point to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

TOKYO (AP) — One of Naomi Osaka’s main sponsors has taken down an online ad campaign that depicts the Japanese tennis player with pale skin after it was criticized as insensitive.

Daisuke Okabayashi, a spokesman for Japanese noodle-maker Nissin Foods Holdings, said Thursday that two animation clips, which went up earlier this month, were deleted from the company online site Wednesday.

“We as a company put human rights first, and our stance of valuing diversity is unchanged,” he said in a telephone interview. “Whitewashing has never been our intention.”

The clips showed a doe-eyed woman in the trademark style of Japanese manga, or comics. Critics said the depiction did not fully reflect Osaka’s biracial background — Osaka has a Haitian father and Japanese mother.

Okabayashi said the ads had prior approval from Osaka’s agent.

Nissin became Osaka’s corporate sponsor in November 2016.

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