Yoshiro Mori (pictured above), the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee and former Prime Minister, set off anger nationwide after he was quoted as saying women talk too much and that meetings with many female board directors would "take a lot of time".
Mori was quoted by a local newspaper: "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. We have about seven women at the organising committee, but everyone understands their place."
Calls for his resignation ensued after which Yori apologised but he remained steadfast about not stepping down from his position. The International Olympic Committee told Reuters it considered the "issue closed" following the apology. Adding fuel to the fire, when asked why he made the remarks at a press conference following the debacle, Mori said: "I don't talk to women that much lately, so I don't know."
Mori's remarks has set off a social media storm in Japan with the hashtag #Moriresign trending on Twitter. Japanese activists have kickstarted an online petition calling for action against Mori, and it has garnered under 140,000 signatures at time of publish.
Student activist Momoko Nojo, who was part of the group that started the petition told Japan Times that it is not right that people are saying to let the matter slide on the basis of 'Oh well, he's a grandpa'. She added that the incident is a reflection of wider societal problems in the country.
"This situation with Mori is not only his personal problem or an issue with the Olympics. It's also a problem within companies and top-down organisation structures in Japanese society," she said. "It is a problem when people cannot speak up when someone superior says something outdated. We want to take this opportunity to change that through our petition so that people can speak up more and our society will change for the better."
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka also slammed Mori's comments: "I feel like that was a really ignorant statement to make. I want to hear the reasoning behind those comments. I also want to hear the perspective of everyone else that surrounds him."
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