A piece in today’s Times, another man vilified for telling the truth. A recent study by scientists at the University of Leighton Buzzard, as yet unpublished, concluded that women spend more than twice as long talking over their lifetimes, compared with men.
The head of the Tokyo Olympics has caused outrage in Japan after saying that women should be limited in the time they are allowed to speak in meetings because they are too long-winded.
Yoshiro Mori, 83, insisted this afternoon that he would not step down over his remarks, in a new crisis for the postponed Tokyo Games, which are already in doubt because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a meeting of the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) Council yesterday, Mr Mori spoke out against moves to increase female representation on sports governing bodies to 40 per cent.
“The ministry has been very insistent about choosing female directors, but a board meeting with plenty of women will drag on,” Mr Mori, a former prime minister, said.
“Women are competitive. When one raises her hand and speaks, all the others think they should speak, too. Everyone ends up saying something.”
To laughter from some members of the council, he added: “I was told that if the JOC plans to increase female members of the executive boards, meetings will be drawn out unless the time allotted for each speaker is limited to some extent. Otherwise, they’ll never stop, which is a problem.”
However, he praised the existing female members of the organising committee, who make up just a fifth of its membership. “The organising committee includes about seven women,” he said. “But they all know how to behave.”
Quoted in the Mainichi newspaper today, Mori said: “It was careless of me, and I would like to apologise. I had no intention to disrespect women.” [J4MB: Telling the truth isn’t disrespectful, anyone who is offended by the truth has the problem, not the teller of the truth.]
The remarks caused outrage on social media, with many comments bearing the hashtag “Mr Yoshiro Mori Please Resign”. “Given his position, it was quite unfortunate,” said Kaori Yamaguchi, an Olympic medallist in judo and a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee executive board.
“The fact that it was sent out to the world – it wasn’t just an individual point of view but suggested to the world that the Japanese may still think this way…. Gender equality and consideration for people with disabilities were supposed to be a fundamental of the Tokyo Games.” [J4MB: Ironically, a perfect example of a woman taking twice as long to say something as a man would have taken.]
The Olympic organisers are already fighting to convince the Japanese that the Games should go ahead in July, one year later than originally scheduled. Mr Mori has admitted that they are considering holding them without spectators, despite growing doubts among the country’s political leaders and the general public that they should be held at all.
Last month, a senior member of Japan’s ruling coalition told The Times that there is agreement among politicians that the Games, already postponed by one year, are doomed. The person said that the aim now is find a face-saving way of announcing the cancellation that leaves open the possibility of hosting the Games in Tokyo in 2032.
Opinions polls show that 80 per cent of Japanese oppose going ahead with the games this summer because of concerns that it will add to the growing pressure on the country’s hospitals caused by the pandemic. Tokyo and Japan’s biggest cities have been under a state of emergency since last week, following a surge in winter infections.
Despite this, Mr Mori allows for no doubt that the games will go ahead. “No matter what situation would be with the coronavirus, we will hold the games,” he said on Tuesday. “We should leave off discussion of whether we will hold the games or not, but instead discuss how we should hold it.”
In response to these remarks, Atsushi Tamura, a famous Japanese comedian, announced that he would not take part in the Olympic torch relay due to begin at the end of March. “I see these incomprehensible statements about the Olympics being held regardless of the coronavirus situation,” he said. “I can’t agree with that.”
Mr Mori resigned in 2001 after a disastrously unpopular year in office. His career has been marked by remarks that have caused upset and controversy. He has made jokes about AIDS, been photographed drinking with a gangster, and said that the United States is a society where murderers come out during power cuts.
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