Japanese public broadcaster NHK has apologized following a furor over an animated video purporting to explain the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S.
The video aired on NHK’s Sunday “The World Now” program and was uploaded to the broadcaster’s Twitter feed. It not only portrayed African Americans in a stereotypical way, with an angry musclebound male character front and center, but it also omitted all mention of the death of George Floyd in police custody.
Instead, the clip claimed the protests were due to an income gap between white and Black Americans, exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.
The video prompted outrage among African Americans in Japan, with “Japan Times” columnist and author Baye McNeil commenting on Facebook that “Honestly, this looks intentionally offensive. No way they didn’t know that this was gonna be problematic.”
Joseph M. Young, the interim head of the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, tweeted, “The caricatures used are offensive and insensitive.”
While we understand @NHK's intent to address complex racial issues in the United States, it's unfortunate that more thought and care didn't go into this video. The caricatures used are offensive and insensitive.
— ジョセフ・M・ヤング 駐日米国臨時代理大使 (@USAmbJapan) June 9, 2020
After taking down the clip, NHK commented on Twitter, saying: “We apologize for our lack of consideration and for making people feel uncomfortable.”
We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. Our statement:https://t.co/UbPffgpH0Z
— 世界のいま Mr.シップ (@nhk_sekaima) June 9, 2020
Japan has one of the most homogenous populations in the developed world — and one of the oldest.
The birth rate is well below replacement level, causing the overall population to decline since 2010, and the proportion of people of working age is shrinking. This has caused Japan to crack open its doors to workers from overseas. But of the 122 million 2019 population, just 2.3 million are reported to be foreigners, with Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and Brazilians the largest demographics.