Japanese public broadcaster NHK made an official apology last week, a rarity in Japan’s media world for publishing an animated video on its Twitter account that had a goal of explaining the current U.S. protests related to black lives matters and police reform, but which instead sparked online outrage for its depiction of African Americans.
The video, which is 1:21 minutes in length was also broadcast nationwide on the NHK, Sunday evening program "Sekai no Ima" (The World Now), featured a tough-talking black narrator who discussed the wealth disparity between black and white Americans, and the economic impact from the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, instead of providing a balanced report which discussed the reasons for protests, in response to the killing of George Floyd and other black women and men and how police brutality is its own epidemic in America, the report only presented cartoon stereotypes of black and their issues.
The video by NHK also perpetuates black stereotypes, with the “narrator” showing off his\ bodybuilder-like bursting out of a white tank top and other African-American characters in the clip including a man with an Afro hairstyle and mutton chop sideburns, and a muscular man in a sleeveless purple suit, fedora-style hat and sandals strumming a guitar.
Joseph M. Young, a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said on Twitter that, "While we understand @NHK's intent to address complex racial issues in the United States, it's unfortunate that more thought and care didn't go into this video.
Young added that, "The caricatures used are offensive and insensitive."
NHK said on Twitter that it had decided to take down the tweet after receiving a lot of criticism and that it had posted the video with a "lack of consideration and we apologize to those who were made to feel uncomfortable.”
The video had been viewed more than one million times before it was taken down by NHK, and many netizens said that while the broadcaster had the opportunity to take down the video earlier, it remained online so that NHK could receive more publicity.