Yoshiro Mori is a former Japanese prime minister and head of the Tokyo committee that’s currently organisating the fraught Summer Olmpics Games, still expected to go ahead later this year.
But he’s now issued an apology and is facing pressure to resign, after declaring this week that board meetings with women take longer because women talk too much.
“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported him as saying during an online board meeting.
“We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place,” he said.
He’s also reported as saying: “Women are very competitive. When one of them raises her hand, they probably think they have to say something, too. And then everyone says something.”
The comments came when the lack of women on the board was brought up.
The 25 person Japanese Olympic Committe board set a 40% female target it set for itself back in 2019, requiring it to double its female representation.
The statement made at the Japan Olympic Committee was an inappropriate expression, contrary to the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” Mori said Thursday. “I am deeply remorseful. I would like to withdraw the statement. I would like to apologize for any unpleasant feelings.”
After apologising for the comments overnight, the 83 year old add that he has no plans on resigning. And The International Olympic Committee has said it believes the “issue closed” following Mori’s retraction.
“I am not thinking to resign,” Mori said during the press conference. “I have been working hard and helped devotedly for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”
But others won’t be so quick to forget the matter. Mori who says his own wife and daughter gave him a “scolding” over the sexist comments, is facing pressure from former athletes and other high profile people in the sporting community, with the hashtag saying “Mori, please resign” trending in Japan.
“Last night, my wife gave me a thorough scolding,” he told Japanese newspaper the Mainichi. “She said: ‘You’ve said something bad again, haven’t you? I’m going to have to suffer again because you’ve antagonised women.’ This morning, my daughter and granddaughter scolded me as well.”
Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto has reiterated the principles of the Olympics, saying she wants to hold “thorough discussions” with Mori.
“The Olympics’ fundamental principle is to promote women’s advancement in sport at all levels and organisations in order to realise gender equality,” local media reports.
He is also under pressure elsewhere, with polls revealing the Japanese public are not all that keen on hosting an Olympic Games during a pandemic.