Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games organising committee, has resigned from his post over his sexist comments that caused an international outcry with less than six months to go until the Games.
“My inappropriate statement has caused a lot of chaos … I wish to resign as president as of today,” he told a meeting on Friday of Tokyo 2020’s council and executive board called to discuss his remarks disparaging women’s participation in organising the Games.
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Mori also repeated his apology and said the important thing is for the sporting event to be held successfully. The Olympics slated to be held last year was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
His would-be successor, Saburo Kawabuchi, who currently serves as the mayor of the Olympic village, also pulled out from being nominated after other members of the Japanese Olympic Committee questioned Mori’s role in making the pick.
Questions were also raised about whether there was no better alternative than another older, male, and local media said Kawabuchi later turned down the job.
Local broadcaster Fuji News Network (FNN) reported the government would seek to block the nomination of Kawabuchi.
“We can’t give the impression that things have changed unless we install a woman or see a generational shift,” FNN cited a government source as saying.
Kyodo News agency is reporting that Japan’s Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto, could be a possible candidate to replace Mori.
Gaffes and blunders
Mori, the 83-year-old former prime minister, sparked controversy after he complained that female members of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) talk too much.
The comments set off a firestorm at home and abroad adding to the problems surrounding the Games, already postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mori was forced to apologise for the gaffe, but his refusal to resign from his post sparked a movement from within Japan and outside to force him out.
On Tuesday, female opposition party legislators attended the Lower House session clad in white to protest against Mori’s actions. The all-white outfits symbolise women’s fight for equality in Japan.
Kiyomi Tsujimoto, the deputy leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, denounced the governing party for its inaction on Mori’s case.
“The administration is showing its blatant contempt for women,” she was quoted by public service broadcaster NHK as saying. She said a country without gender equality could not be considered a democracy.
Male legislators from the opposition showed their solidarity by placing white roses in their suit pockets.
Anger over Mori’s comments is likely to further alienate a Japanese public that has grown weary of Tokyo’s attempts to hold the Games during a pandemic.
Nearly 80 percent of the Japanese public opposes holding the Games as scheduled in July, according to the most recent poll.
Mori’s tenure as prime minister was also marred by gaffes and blunders.