Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, has said that he will not resign after his derogatory comments about women caused widespread backlash.
Mori, 83, made several remarks about women in sports organizations earlier this week during a meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee. According to the Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, the remarks came after Mori was asked about the plan to increase the number of women on the committee to 40 percent of the total.
“Women have a strong sense of rivalry. If one raises her hand to speak, all the others feel the need to speak, too. Everyone ends up saying something,” Mori said via the Guardian.
“If I say too much, the newspapers are going to write that I said bad things, but I heard somebody say that if we are to increase the number of female board members, we have to regulate speaking time to some extent, or else we’ll never be able to finish. I am not going to say who said that.
“We have about seven women at the organizing committee, but everyone understands their place.”
The backlash to Mori’s comments has been intense in Japan, where women are still fighting for representation in politics and business. On Thursday, “Mori, please resign” was trending on Twitter in Japan, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the remarks “unacceptable” during a session of parliament.
Kaori Yamaguchi, a director at the Japanese Olympic Committee who has tirelessly campaigned to increase the number of women in Japanese sports, was disappointed by Mori’s comments.
"Gender equality and consideration for people with disabilities were supposed to be a given for the Tokyo Games,” Yamaguchi said via the Kyodo News. “It is unfortunate to see the president of the organizing committee make such a remark.”
Several government officials also criticized Mori’s sexist remarks. Via the Kyodo News:
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said it "goes without saying" that women should be included in the decision-making process, adding she believes someone "talking too much" is an issue with an individual, rather than their gender.
Japan's top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, said the government is committed to gender equality and will continue to push for the promotion of women to leadership roles in sports organizations.
Mori couldn’t even escape the backlash at home. Via the BBC, Mori told Japan's Mainichi newspaper that several female members of his family had yelled at him about his comments.
"Last night, my wife gave me a thorough scolding. She said: 'You've said something bad again, haven't you? I'm going to have to suffer again because you've antagonized women.
"This morning, my daughter and granddaughter scolded me as well."
Mori apologizes, but won’t resign
Mori, who was known as gaffe-prone during his time as prime minister, apologized for his remarks at a news conference on Thursday.
"The statement made at the Japan Olympic Committee was an inappropriate expression, contrary to the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” Mori said. “I am deeply remorseful. I would like to withdraw the statement. I would like to apologize for any unpleasant feelings."
However, Mori also said that he will not resign his position.
“I am not thinking of resigning,” Mori said via the Guardian. “I have been working hard and devoted myself to helping [the Tokyo Olympics] for seven years. I will not be stepping down.”
Later during the news conference, Mori was asked why he said that women talk to much during meetings. According to the Guardian, Mori said, “I don’t talk to women that much these days, so I don’t know.”
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