A new ad from Nike Japan has ignited controversy for shedding light on the bullying and racism faced by minorities in the country.
The two-minute commercial, titled “Keep Moving: Yourself, the Future,” shows three young female soccer athletes from different backgrounds and is reportedly based on “real-life experience of athletes.”
One of the girls featured is Japanese. She is bullied at school and struggles to meet her parents’ expectations.
“Am I good enough?” she asks. “Should I listen to all of you?”
Another girl featured is Korean. She is a transfer student and is seen looking into Japan’s “zainichi” (or “foreign resident,” usually in reference to Koreans) situation.
“Maybe I should stand out a little less,” she says. “Maybe I should get them [classmates] to like me.”
The third girl featured is biracial Japanese, whose father is Black. Eyes follow her as she walks through her school’s corridors, while some girls are seen touching her hair in the comfort room.
“Am I normal enough?” she asks. “Maybe I should blend in a little more.”
The biracial girl is also seen reading comments on a video of Naomi Osaka, whom she appears to identify with.
One of the comments asked, “So are you American or Japanese?”
The ad, which was released on Nov. 28, has since sparked a heated exchange between those who found it enlightening and those who deemed it offensive.
“This is amazing. I feel like I’ve never seen a commercial that cuts into the issue of living in Japan and minorities in Japanese advertising,” one Japanese social media user wrote, according to SoraNews24.
“Nowadays, you often see one or two people of different nationalities going to school perfectly peacefully. The one that’s prejudiced is Nike,” another noted, according to Reuters.
Check out more comments below:
Dear executives in Nike. We Japanese are not familiar with this kind of Ad. Rather, we HATE THIS. Did you hear from local employees’ opinion? Localization is very important. Do not think from US culture. Follow the opinion from employees. I would like not to hate your company.
— zip_pod (@zip_pod) November 29, 2020
I’m half Japanese but this happens almost every time I’m on the train. I would argue that Nike shouldn’t be including race into theirs ads with a message that says to play sports but I think this should be a wake up call for people. The eyes they give against any foreigner or
— George. M. Warrens #BLM (@g_warrens) November 29, 2020
Yo,, Nike. This is too much.
Don’t involve fucking race in sports.
Sooo sad…. OMG….
— gypsyjapanese (@gypsyjapanese21) November 28, 2020
I really don’t think you get the message here. The point is these girls are being bullied for being different when they aren’t playing soccer but on the field no one points their differences out.
— JoshiFootball (@Ponde_Ringu_35) November 28, 2020
Nike Japan has not addressed the controversy surrounding the ad.
Feature Image Screenshots via Nike Japan