TOKYO – An online advertisement featuring a woman saying the debate over gender equality is outdated has sparked furore in Japan for being sexist, a month after an outcry over sexist comments by the former Olympics organising chief saw him step down.

In the advertisement, which was released on Monday (March 22) to promote an evening TV news programme, a woman speaks about her day in a chatty manner to the camera and says: “When you see some politician campaigning for ‘gender equality’ like a slogan – it feels so outdated, don’t you think?”

One user on Twitter said: “The cowardice of having a woman say that ‘gender equality is outdated’. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“I can’t understand how anyone can make an advert saying that gender equality is outdated, in an age when we are trying to change” the difficulties of living in Japan as a woman, said opposition lawmaker Mizuho Fukushima on Twitter.

TV Asahi, the broadcaster that released the advert, said it had intended to convey that it was time to take concrete action on achieving gender equality rather than just talking about it.

“We take it seriously that there were people who were offended by this advert, and extend our apologies to them,” the broadcaster said in a statement released on Wednesday, adding that it had taken the advertisement down.

Japan is ranked 121 out of 153 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index, scoring poorly on women’s economic participation and political empowerment.

In early February, former Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee president Yoshiro Mori sparked outrage for suggesting that women talk too long at meetings, prompting him to be replaced by Ms Seiko Hashimoto just a few months before the start of the Summer Olympic Games.

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