Tokyo — The long saga of Japan’s embattled Olympics boss Yoshiro Mori appeared to be near an end on Thursday. Japan’s Kyodo news agency and others reported — citing unnamed sources — that Mori was to step down on Friday as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.
The move would follow a about women more than a week ago, and an ensuing and rare public debate in Japan about gender equality.
A decision was expected to be announced on Friday when the organizing committee’s executive board meets. The executive board of Tokyo 2020 is overwhelming male, as is its day-to-day leadership.
The 83-year-old Mori, in a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee more than a week ago,that “annoying” women “talk too much” and are driven by a “strong sense of rivalry.” Mori, a former prime minister, gave a grudging apology a few days later after his opinions were reported, but declined to resign.
This is more than just another problem for the
More than 80% of the Japanese public in recent polls the Olympics should be postponed or canceled.
Mori’s remarks have drawn outrage from many quarters and have put the spotlight on how far Japan lags behind other prosperous countries in advancing women in politics or the boardrooms. Japan stands 121st out of 153 in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality rankings.
Though some on the street have called for him to resign — almost 400 Olympic volunteers have said they’ll quit — most decision makers have stopped short of this and have simply condemned his remarks.
“Not in touch”
Natsumi Ikoma, who directs gender studies at Tokyo’s International Christian University, told CBS News’ Lucy Craft this week that the episode speaks volumes about Japan’s insular, male-centric and increasingly gerontocratic conservative party, which has run the country almost nonstop for the last nearly 70 years.
“Because he’s so old, he’s not in touch with modern technology… and probably he’s not really aware of the MeToo movement,” Ikoma said. “So I think he considered it okay to say something so obviously sexist.”
Japan’s customary deference to elders is also to blame, she said.
“Because he is high-ranking, he’s surrounded by sycophants and probably nobody has ever criticized him before,” said Ikoma. “The older (you) are, the more authority you have, so they think they should be revered.”
Historian Chelsea Szendi Schieder, of Tokyo’s Aoyama Gakuin University, told CBS News that sexist trolling by Japanese politicians is so commonplace here that the furor over Mori’s statements was especially noteworthy.
“There’s the usual procedure — there’s a so-called gaffe, and then an apology to retract it, and then that’s supposed to smooth everything over,” Schieder said. “What I’ve been a little bit surprised about is how much traction this has gotten.”