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Although the initial reaction on Japanese social media to tennis star Naomi Osaka’s refusal to sit for the press at this month’s French Open as mandated by the organizers, as well as her subsequent withdrawal from the tournament over the reaction to that announcement, included strained attempts to explain her actions with references to her Japanese background, for the most part Japanese Twitter users were supportive of Osaka and required no further explanations. They accepted her admission of mental suffering, which is only surprising in that depression is still a relatively taboo subject in Japan (or, at least, it is when the object of scrutiny is a Japanese person).

Osaka is Japanese by birth, so her connection to her mother’s country has been thoroughly discussed and analyzed by local media, but, in the end, they have mostly given up on trying to find her Japanese essence. She is what she is, and if the French Open dispute proves anything, it’s that she isn’t going to be anything else. In fact, the local writer with the most critical take on the affair may be Robert Whiting, an American who has lived in Tokyo and written about Japanese sports for many years and who described Osaka’s actions as childish in the tabloid Yukan Fuji.

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