Nike anti-racism ad sparks big response in Japan

TOKYO (AFP) – A Nike advert highlighting racism and bullying in Japan has caused a stir on social media, with some users even calling for a boycott of the company.

Nike, which sponsors biracial Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, released the two-minute commercial on Monday and it has since racked up more than 14 million views on Twitter.

The Japanese-language clip, titled Keep Moving: Yourself, the Future, shows three teenage girls of mixed or non-Japanese heritage being bullied at school before finding confidence through their football prowess.

It had been liked more than 50,000 times on Nike Japan’s YouTube channel yesterday, but also disliked by over 30,000 viewers – many of whom accused the sportswear firm of anti-Japanese sentiment.

One scene shows a girl wearing traditional Korean clothes being stared at by passing businessmen, while another shows a group of girls surrounding a classmate whose father is black and touching her hair. Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a father from Haiti, makes a cameo appearance as a biracial girl watches her on a smartphone.

The video sparked online debate, with some calling for a boycott. “Goodbye Nike,” one Twitter user wrote in Japanese. “Our household won’t be buying any more products from you.”