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Japanese airline sorry for ‘racist’ ad

Expats in Japan are ticked off about what they say is a racist ad. I don’t know, I wasn’t moved either way –though the descendents of Cyrano de Bergerac might take offense.

Nonetheless (or always the more), there was an eruption from the netosphere.

“I’ve just seen the new ANA advert…Really? ANA think this is OK?!” Angela Fukutome said in a message posted on ANA’s Facebook page.

“If you are a foreigner and have planned to come to £Japan do not choose an openly racist airline like £ANA! Watch their Japanese commercial,” tweeted @sibylleito on Twitter.

An ANA spokeswoman said the carrier “has received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad.”

“We apologised to each of the customers for having caused uncomfortable feelings and also thanked them for bringing up the issue,” she told AFP.

About the author: Founder/CEO of Meme Communications Korea – www.memecommunications.com

  • Jason Lindley

    I just…what?

  • SeoulGoodman

    Ironically, those who complain about the ad being racist don’t seem to care that the two guys were stereotypical Japanese salarymen (which is, in itself, a rather racist stereotype). I still don’t think making this ad was a good idea, though. The humour is too subtle.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I kind of liked the ad

  • Bryan

    hahaha. I don’t find it offensive. People need to relax a bit.

  • Bean

    I insist on only two types of comments here: 1) absolute outrage at the
    worst example of racism since Hitler and the Holocaust; or 2) utter and
    outright dismissal of anyone indicating even the slightest hint of
    offense, complaints about whining/whinging oversensitive expats, “gave
    me a fork™,” etc.

  • Hiro

    Hardly ironic, it was intentional. Didn’t you catch the comment: “that’s very Japanese of you.”? This sort of navel-gazing about Japaneseness and racial essentialism is hardly uncommon, it’s quite cliche actually and called Nihonjinron

  • namepen

    Of course it is racism, at least by the standards of the west.

    However, most white people wouldnt feel offended because white
    people have so much pride and/or confidence in their racial identity
    that they find it hard to get too upset about being racially abused.
    Which, if you think about it, is kind of racist.

    Non-white peoples on the other hand have had to deal with a variety
    of humiliations from the past and this obviously makes them easier to

  • http://www.busanhaps.com/ Bobby McGill

    I find it racist that they are not dressed in traditional Japanese clothing and are instead being paraded around in the strict business clothing ethic of the white man.

  • Dokdoforever

    I don’t get it… What does he say? “You wanna hug?” I don’t know too many Westerners who would hug there.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    西島秀俊. Nishijima Hidetoshi. He’s my favourite actor.

  • bigmamat

    Am I wrong or does the guy on the left have a fairly impressive nose himself? It’s bigger than mine and I’m not Japanese.

  • djson1

    “…most white people wouldnt feel offended…”

    Apparently, that wasn’t the case with many of the white expat community in Japan.

  • djson1

    Yeah, that threw me off too. Why would you offer to hug the other guy just because he said he was excited?? That was more strange than anything else. haha

  • djson1

    “Let’s change the image of Japanese people.”
    Aren’t Japanese doing that anyways (just like Koreans) by dying their hair blond, wearing blue contact lenses and eye surgery?

  • namepen

    They were vocal, but judging by the response of posters here and other news sites there doesn’t seem to be that much outrage.

    It is still valid to say that ‘white people’ dont tend to feel the same sensitivity to being racially abused as other races.

  • dlbarch

    Until ANA starts placing its actors in fat suits with t-shirts of “I Heart Pre-Diabetes,” their attempt to capture the nuances of Western representation will lack complete authenticity.

    Racist? Not.even.close!


  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I’m a little disappointed that ANA folded so quickly. They need to call MBC to find production companies with a bit more backbone.

  • PortaJohn

    I thought it was funny.

  • dlbarch

    BTW, it’s not technically Nihonjin-ron, but for any F.O.B.s out there who think that the whole “four seasons” thang is something peculiar to Korea, it ain’t:


    I gotta admit, I never tire of this kind of provincialism. Dig it!


  • ChuckRamone

    There was another Japanese ad that recently ruffled a few people’s feathers: http://kotaku.com/toshiba-commercial-called-racist-update-606881529

    They did the exact same gag with a Japanese person wearing a fake long nose. Personally, I think a lot of Japanese fetishize “Western” features and it’s not meant to be insulting – telling someone they have a “high nose” is considered a compliment in Japanese. But maybe I’d feel differently about these commercials if I were white.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    What rhymes with hug …?

  • babotaengi

    The ad gave me the same tinge of hubris I get when I see the multitude of Korean celebrities who paid for a nose bridge like mine. Kkkk.

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  • ChuckRamone

    I didn’t know you could have any more hubris. You seem pretty topped out.

  • babotaengi

    Oh yeah: I’m soaked with it from the core to the capillaries. I just meant this sort of story brings it oozing to the surface.