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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Embassies in Tokyo tweet for gender equality after Mori's remarks

Former prime minister said women tend to talk too much in meetings

German Embassy members raising their hands in support of gender equality in pictures on Twitter.   © Kyodo

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A series of European embassies in Japan have tweeted pictures of staff raising their hands under the hashtags "dontbesilent" and "genderequality" following recent sexist remarks by Tokyo Olympic chief Yoshiro Mori, with the reaction going viral on Japanese social media.

After the German Embassy first used the hashtags on Friday, other European diplomatic missions in the Japanese capital such as those of Finland, Sweden and the European Union followed suit.

Mori, an 83-year-old former Japanese prime minister, said Wednesday in a gathering of the Japanese Olympic Committee that women tend to talk too much in meetings as they have "a strong sense of rivalry."

The pose of raising one hand is intended to show support for gender equality and expresses resolve not to remain silent in the face of sexist remarks, according to embassy officials.

"Gender equality is what we have always promoted. It is one of the fundamental values," said a member of staff at one of the embassies involved in the tweets who declined to be named or have the embassy identified.

As of Saturday morning, the embassies of Ireland and Portugal, as well as the United Nations Information Center Tokyo, had joined the movement, with the German Embassy's first tweet being retweeted more than 10,000 times.

Mori retracted the comments and apologized on Thursday, but there are no signs of public anger at Mori abating.

In Japanese social media, a number of retweeters posted about their determination to act against gender discrimination, also using hashtags in Japanese meaning such as "Women who won't behave" and "Please retire, Yoshiro Mori."

An online petition calling for the central and Tokyo metropolitan governments, as well as the JOC and the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, to "properly address" Mori's behavior is also picking up steam.

By Saturday morning, more than 100,000 people had signed the Change.org petition launched Thursday afternoon.

The comments by Mori have cast another dark shadow over this summer's Tokyo Olympics, postponed for one year due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and already facing declining support among the Japanese public.

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