Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) have decided that they will be revising their new TV commercial, incidentally called “The Japanese are changing,” because of widespread complaints of racism and stereotyping. The airline, one of Japan’s top three, said that the intention was never to stereotype, but to encourage the Japanese people to be more global in outlook.
“Our intention was not to offend,” ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura said on Monday. He announced that the carrier would be changing it after receiving negative comments and phone calls. ANA’s 30-second TV ad pokes fun at the reserved attitude of the Japanese people, but the ad ends with one of the characters donning a long, pointy nose and blond wig apparently meant to portray a Westerner. Judging from the reactions of English speakers on via social networks, especially on ANA’s Facebook page, some of them were clearly offended by the ad. Some also expressed light bemusement, but the negative comments were widespread.
Initially, ANA was undecided whether it would pull the ad or change it, but the airline eventually gave in to the public pressure. Nomura added that the airline would take the “different opinions” into account in revising the offending commercial. The Japanese population is fairly homogenous, and there is only a small percentage of non-Asian foreigners living in Japan (though that number is actually increasing). Westerners are often portrayed as having blond hair, big blue eyes and big noses – all of which are relatively desirable traits for Japanese.