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.