TOKYO Jan 21 Japan's largest carrier All Nippon
Airways said on Tuesday it was pulling a TV
advertisement featuring a Japanese actor in a large false nose
and blonde wig after it was criticised online for having racist
The ad, which is in English with Japanese subtitles,
promotes ANA's expanded international flight schedule from
Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Japan, host of the 2020 Summer Olympics,
is trying to attract more tourists amid a sharp rise in visitors
over the last year, particularly from Asia.
In the ad, which began airing on Jan 18, two men in ANA
pilot uniforms chat about how they will now be heading off to
new destinations such as Hanoi and Vancouver.
"Let's change the image of Japanese!" one says, and turns to
his companion, who now wears a large fake nose and a brassy
blond wig, in line with Japanese stereotypes about Europeans.
"Of course," he replies.
In another version of the ad, one man surprises his
companion by offering to hug him. Public displays of affection,
especially between men, are uncommon in Japan.
The ad unleashed a torrent of mostly negative comments on
ANA's Facebook page, with some people saying they had cancelled
their loyalty cards. Other online commentators, however, said
they liked the commercial while some said it was simply strange,
rather than racist.
ANA apologised for the ad on its Facebook page, and Japanese
media said the company had also apologised to customers who
called in to complain.
On Tuesday, a spokeswoman said the ad would be taken off
air. The airline had yet to decide what it would do with
versions on other media, she added.
"We heard a lot of opinions from customers about points in
our ad that didn't match with our intention," the spokeswoman
said. "Our intention was to show Japanese becoming more active
and essential to the world."
She said the wig and the fake nose were intended to show
Japanese becoming more accepted overseas, adding the airline did
not intend to discriminate against anybody.
"There were people who took it that way, so we are paying
attention to this and cancelling the ad," she said.
The ad aired only in Japan, but also spread on Internet
video sharing sites.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Miral Fahmy)