The Tokyo 2020 Olympics board may be facing a new obstacle in their quest to make the Summer Games in Japan memorable – criticism is now circulating targeted at the newest inductee to the board, musical producer and AKB48 creator Yasushi Akimoto. The board had recently staved off complaints saying there were not enough women involved in the board by appointing seven females, but this new addition may pose new problems.
Akimoto is the producer behind AKB48, a singing and dancing Japanese “idol” act that features a number of young women. Regardless of criticism for him, there is no denying that the group and its spinoffs are hugely popular in Japan, and even in other Asian nations as well. The Japanese government has even appointed them as ambassadors for the “Cool Japan” efforts of marketing Japanese culture internationally. The problem is that some find AKB48, in their short skirts and sexy dances, musically inane and sexist. A petition has actually began circulating on the Internet in protest to Akimoto’s appointment. As of the moment, the petition has over 11,000 signatures behind it, and it is attempting to collect at least 100,000 signatures.
But the criticism aside, the current board does have some stellar names. Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda was named vice chief of the board, and two-time women’s Olympic judo gold medalist Ayumi Tanimoto, along with Olympic hammer-throw gold medalist Koji Murofushi are among the board members. Japan also boasts a number of internationally acclaimed artists, including film director Takeshi Kitano and visual artist Takashi Murakami. There has been some speculation Kitano may be chosen to direct the opening ceremony. All in all, the 2020 Olympics are seen by many as a poignant hope for Japan’s continuing revival – economically stagnant for decades and rocked by natural and manmade disasters in recent years.