Racism Row Over Airline Commercial’s Portrayal Of Westerners

Airline racist commercial Japan

A screenshot from ANA’s new commercial.

Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) has landed in hot water over its latest commercial, which features a comedian in a blond wig and a big nose to highlight ANA’s increased number of international routes out of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which handles largely domestic flights.

In any homogenous society, racial sensitivity is sometimes lacking, particularly in instances where a person may never have seen a person from a different ethnicity. But when it comes to an international airline, is it acceptable to stereotype foreigners in this way?

Is ANA’s New Commercial Racist? Decide For Yourself:

From YouTube:

From AFPBB News:

Complaints Over ANA’s New Ad From Foreigners; “Blond Hair And A High Nose” Is Racist

On January 20 it was revealed that All Nippon Airways (ANA) received complaints of racism and stereotyping of foreigners over it’s newly debuted commercial, that started being broadcast last weekend. The company has issued individual apologies, but it is still undecided as to whether the commercial will be pulled.

The problematic commercial is a 30 second spot that started being broadcast on January 18, intended to inform the airline’s customers that from March the number of ANA’s international routes out of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport will increase. The commercial features actor Nishijima Hidetoshi and the comedian Bakarizumu, who are both wearing pilot’s uniforms, conversing in English about ANA’s improved image as an international airline.

Nishijima states, “Let’s change the image of Japanese people!”, and Bakarizumu responds “Of course”, but the moment you look at Bakarizumu, he has changed into a blond wig and an a big plastic toy noise, which is exaggeratedly prominent.

These represent the typical image that most Japanese people have, of an attractive white person with blond hair, blue eyes, and a prominent nose.

A foreign woman resident in Japan wrote in English on ANA’s Facebook page: “Just saw ANA’s new ad. Are you serious? Does ANA really think that this isn’t a problem!?”

Furthermore, on the micro-blogging site Twitter there was a post from a foreigner living in Tokyo that stated “If you’re a foreigner planning to travel to Japan, you must absolutely not use a blatantly racist airline like ANA. Look at their Japanese ad”.

On January 20, ANA’s advertising department admitted in an interview with AFP that there had been complaints about the new commercial, mostly from foreigners, and stated that as well as apologising to individuals for making them feel uncomfortable, and they have acknowledged the concerns that have been raised. They have conveyed the fact that there have been complaints to the advertising department responsible, but that at the present time the advert’s future has not been decided.

Comments from 2ch.net:


I wondered if they’d get any complaints, and looks like they did, eh?


If anything, they’re making fun of Japanese aren’t they?


Yeah I thought they were making fun of Japanese.
But it’s nothing short of a mystery that the contents of the ad weren’t an issue within the company before people started talking about international sensibility.


It’s racist to put on a tengu mask.


So white people have a complex about their huge noses?

バズソーキック(東京都): [in response to above]

Yeah, there are some of them who get plastic surgery to make their noses less prominent.


The images of Japanese people in foreign films and dramas is still pretty awful though.


I don’t know, but isn’t the way foreigners think of Japan as samurai-ninja-fujiyama the same kind of thing?
And by the way, how is this racist? They’re just making fun of it.


There are quite a few white people who have a complex because their nose is too big. With the way things are these days, it’s common sense to know that it’s racist to exaggerate such a feature.
Particularly in the broadcasting industry, where I think everyone knows that you can’t exaggerate the typical features of a particular ethnicity.
The agency who made this commercial must be idiots.


Did they they we were making fools out of them?
To have a high nose is really amazing, I think, anyway.

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:


Well, if that’s racist, there are a lot of depiction of Japanese people in the West that I can’t even bear to look at.


Blond hair with a prominent nose…they’re just depicting the reality.
Same thing with flat faces, slitty eyes with cheekbones…they’re just depicting reality.


The things you Westerners said to Japanese people when that vulgar satirical French cartoon about Fukushima was published, right back at ya. “It’s just a joke, right? What are you upset about?”


It’s no different from the way that white people think of Japanese: ninjas, sumo. Before complaining about someone else’s country how about doing something about your own?


You white people mess around and pull up the sides of your eyes to imitate Japanese people, don’t you?
When Japanese people complain, you just say “well that’s how it is” and they whole thing is done with, but when you lot are the ones being discriminated against?
This is more or less a domestic commercial made for Japan, it’s not a commercial aimed at white people.
I don’t even recall anyone saying “please come to Japan!”, so if you’ve come here of your own accord stop complaining! And those bastards who saw it on the internet and are finding fault with a Japanese commercial are out of the question.


So in films and stuff, when they portray Japanese people wearing glasses, with a camera hanging around their necks, and their heads bobbing up and down, that’s alright then, is it?


Guess they see us as wearing glasses and having buck teeth, so aren’t we one as bad as the other?


When Westerners are trying to show a Japanese person, don’t they always use glasses and buck teeth and stuff? Isn’t that the same?


Well it’s pretty standard that in fact no one discriminates against others more than those people who kick up a fuss saying “it’s discrimination, it’s discrimination” w
Going by this, even the stereotype of the Asian beauty with high cheek bones and narrow, almond eyes is complete discriminatory. Because East Asians (and in particular the Japanese) have a complex about high cheekbones and almond eyes.

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