TOKYO (Reuters) – The resignation of Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori will not by itself solve the problems of sexism in Japanese society, according to one of the student activists behind a petition that had called for him to quit over remarks he made about women.
Mori, an 83-year-old former prime minister, resigned on Friday after sparking an outcry this month when he told an Olympic committee meeting that women talked too much. He had initially refused to step down.
“If this finishes with the resignation, it will be perceived as only a Mori problem,” said Momoko Nojo, who with others organised an online petition that was signed by more than 147,000 people.
“I think it’s a problem with the people in the organising committee … who laughed when he made the comment, and the people who overlooked it. I believe the problem will not be solved unless the nature of the organisation changes.”
Mori had been quoted as telling a meeting that “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”.
On Friday, he apologised for his “inappropriate comments”, though he said he felt he had been misinterpreted by the media and was not prejudiced against women.
The Japanese Olympic Committee board has 25 members, of whom five are women. According to the committee’s governance code, established in 2019, it should be aiming to make sure that 40% seats on the board are filled by women.
Nojo, who leads a group called “No Youth, No Japan”, said the organisation needed to do more to meet that goal.
But she said the problem of sexism was far wider in Japan, which persistently trails its peers in international surveys in promoting gender equality.
“There are still a lot of discriminatory and prejudiced comments being made in organisations all over Japan,” she told Reuters TV. “And there are still a lot of people who cannot say ‘no’ to them.”
(Reporting by Rikako Maruyama; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Alison Williams)