Reader Mail

Columnist's misguided take on Naomi Osaka

In his opinion piece titled “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” in the Jan. 28 edition, Kuni Miyake asks a leading question.

He has a special connection to the tennis star. He tells us that Osaka did better when his eyes weren’t on the TV screen watching her play in the Australian Open. To show support, he frequently switched the TV off, and she won.

Despite having assisted in Osaka’s victory, Miyake felt “odd” about claims that she is “the first Japanese female tennis player to win two consecutive Grand Slam titles and to be ranked World No. 1.”

In his column in the Sept. 11 edition, he noted that “she speaks primitive Japanese with a heavy American accent.”

He’s clearly troubled by Osaka’s mixed ancestry (Haitian and Japanese), her citizenship (American and Japanese), and her place of residence (Florida, in the U.S.).

“How,” he asks, “can multicultural Osaka represent Japan?”

The simple answer is that she can’t. Not if he’s bothered by the presence in Japan of people who don’t look like him. He notes the increasing number of foreigners and people of mixed ancestry and concludes, “Living with hundreds of thousands of Naomi Osakas in Japan is becoming a reality here.”

Hundreds of thousands of people with brown skin who have won consecutive Grand Slams and are ranked No. 1 in the world?

Nonsense.

Naomi Osaka is unique. There is one and only one No. 1.

Miyake is really fretting about the hundreds of thousands of people in Japan who don’t conform to his notions of what Japanese people look like.

I like reading Kuni Miyake. He was employed by the Japanese government for 27 years. Reading his weekly columns, I’ve found, is a reliable way of plumbing the shallows of Japanese government thinking.

WARREN IWASA
SETAGAYA WARD, TOKYO

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.