Media Mix, Feb. 21, 2021

Yoshiro Mori

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about the disastrous news conference of Yoshiro Mori that presaged his resignation as the president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizing committee. The column may give the impression that it was the intrepid group of non-sports reporters who brought Mori down, but his fate was probably already sealed when his sexist remarks at the extraordinary JOC meeting were revealed and the foreign press made a big thing out of them. It’s sort of pointless to imagine what might have gone down if the foreign press hadn’t made a lot of noise because it’s become such a cliche. Domestic media, of course, know a stupid comment when they hear it, but they tend to step aside and let overseas media take the lead on expressing outrage when such matters present themselves. It’s not so much that it makes their job easier (though it does) as it removes from them any responsibility of having to challenge someone in power. The fact that it was the prime minister’s office that told Mori to hold the news conference to retract his remarks might indicate that the government thought they could contain the problem and save Mori’s skin. I’m not too sure about that, but, in any case, the non-sports reporters who made the effort to show up ensured that he wasn’t going to be allowed to get by with just an apology. As Atsushi Yamada said on Democracy Times, these reporters knew that the usual sports journalists who cover Mori-as-Olympic-honcho would likely not pressure him to own up to his sexist outlook, and perhaps the government, assuming that either only sports reporters would show up for the news conference or that the sports reporters who did show up would monopolize the Q&A session, thought they could leave it at that. Yamada said that most sports reporters come from the world of sports, meaning they were once athletes who understand the structure of Japanese sports and, thus, know their own place in it now that they’re journalists, which is to make sure the structure holds. During their discussion of the news conference on Ashita no College, host Satetsu Takeda and TBS radio reporter Daiki Sawada talked about how sports reporters rarely ask “real questions.” As Takeda commented, “They just want to get close to the players.” However, Sawada’s comment that Mori’s sexist remark reveals problems inherent in Japan’s sports world is off the mark. As so many women have said in the wake of Mori’s resignation, his brand of sexism is rampant throughout all Japanese power structures, and probably the world’s, as well. 

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