Japanese noodle giant apologizes for ‘whitewashing’ Naomi Osaka in anime ad Get short URL Japanese ramen-maker Nissin, which sponsors tennis star Naomi Osaka, has apologized for ‘whitewashing’ the player’s skin tone in an anime ad which triggered a massive backlash from fans.
The company's "Hungry to Win" Cup Noodle advertisement, which featured Osaka as an anime character with light brown hair and pale skin, drew criticism for not being an accurate depiction of the player, who has Haitian roots.
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Born to a Haitian-American father and Japanese mother, Osaka moved to the US with her family at the age of three.
The 21-year-old shot to fame last season after sensationally winning her maiden Grand Slam at the US Open, beating Serena Williams in the final.
The ad, which was illustrated by Japanese anime artist Takeshi Konomi, famous for his "Prince of Tennis" cartoon, drew fury on social media, with many users accusing the company of disrespectfully "whitewashing" Osaka.
Osaka, who was featured in the ad together with fellow Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori, hasn’t commented on the controversy surrounding the cartoon.
Responding to the backlash, Nissin apologized for presenting a light-skinned version of the player, vowing “to pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.”
“There was no intention of whitewashing,” a Nissin spokesperson said by way of apology. “We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.”
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