In what felt something like a case of deja vu from last year's Masatoshi Hamada blackface fiasco, Japan welcomed in 2019 with yet another racially insensitive controversy, this time in the form of an ad from food company Nissin.
The commercial, which has since been removed from YouTube, featured a light-skinned anime version of tennis star Naomi Osaka that bore little resemblance to her actual appearance as a mixed-heritage Japanese and Haitian-American. Almost instantly, accusations of "whitewashing" began to fly.
"I'm tan, it's pretty obvious," she told reporters at a news conference following the debacle. In the tradition of corporate "cultural misunderstandings," Nissin apologized and claimed there was no intention to whitewash Osaka.