A Japanese comedy duo apologised after reportedly saying during a live event that tennis star Naomi Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage, needed to pick up some “bleach.”
The relatively unknown female comedy pairing “A Masso” and their management firm released the apology on Tuesday after a skit referring to the young tennis star made news.
The pair reportedly suggested Osaka needed “bleach,” and said the 21-year-old former world No 1 was “too sunburned,” during a live performance on Sunday.
The duo – whose members call themselves “Kano” and “Murakami” – issued an apology, saying that they had been “ignorant” and “hurtful.”
“We apologise for our failure to supervise A Masso who made remarks that entirely lacked consideration,” their management firm Watanabe Entertainment added in a statement.
Osaka is a household name in Japan, where her every move is followed feverishly by local media, particularly when she is in the country of her mother’s birth.
She is the face of several leading Japanese brands, including the carrier ANA, and “Naomi-chan” – as she is affectionately known – was the main attraction at this month’s Pan Pacific Open in Osaka, which she won.
But she has faced controversies over her dual heritage in a nation that has been traditionally racially homogeneous, as well as scrutiny for her imperfect Japanese speaking skills – though others insist it adds to her charm.
In January, her sponsor Nissin Foods, known for its pot noodles, was accused of “whitewashing” for an animated “anime” style advert that depicted Osaka with pale skin.
Nissin Foods said Osaka had approved the advert but pulled it after a media firestorm.