National

University of Tokyo fires associate professor over anti-Chinese Twitter posts

Kyodo

The University of Tokyo dismissed a 32-year-old associate professor on Wednesday for a series of anti-Chinese comments he made on Twitter late last year.

Shohei Ohsawa, an artificial intelligence researcher, “grossly damaged the honor and reputation” of the state-run university, it said in a statement. Ohsawa tweeted the same day that his dismissal was “unfair” and that the university was “wrong in making light of Japan’s AI technology development while valuing the diversity of various Asian countries.”

Ohsawa made the controversial comments between November and December, describing himself as the university’s “youngest associate professor” in his Twitter profile, and stating that Daisy, an AI technology firm he runs, “will not hire Chinese.”

“I will not bother to hold an interview if (I learn the applicant is) Chinese. I will eliminate the applicant in document screening,” he tweeted, adding, “Workers with low performance levels deserve to be discriminated against in the context of capitalism.”

Ohsawa also wrote that the university was “controlled by the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party.”

While he apologized for the comments in another tweet, he explained that Daisy’s employment policy was “a result of ‘overlearning’ by AI which excessively adapted itself to limited data.”

In April 2019, Ohsawa, then 31, became a specially appointed associate professor at the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, a research organization within the university’s graduate school.

In order to prevent a recurrence of an incident like this, the IIIS will implement new measures such as deepening dialogue between the faculty and students, and setting up a code of ethics, said Noboru Koshizuka, head of the research organization, in a statement.