TOKYO – The boss of the Tokyo 2020 Games risked sparking a sexism row after it was reported on Wednesday he said women made meetings drag on because they “have difficulty” speaking concisely.
Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old former prime minister known for public gaffes, told members of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) that “board of directors meetings with many women take a lot of time”, according to the Asahi Shimbun daily.
“When you increase the number of female executive members, if their speaking time isn’t restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” he said, as some members of the council reportedly laughed.
While ranking highly on a range of international indicators, Japan persistently trails on promoting gender equality, ranking 121 out of 153 nations surveyed in the 2020 global gender gap report of the World Economic Forum.
The JOC itself decided last year to aim for more than 40 percent of female members at the board, but as of November, there are just five women among the board’s 24 members.
“We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place,” Mori added at the Wednesday meeting, which was open to the media, the Asahi said.
Tokyo 2020 did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the remarks.
“Women are competitive,” Mori reportedly added. “When one person raises a hand, others think they need to speak up as well. That’s why everyone speaks.”
His remarks come with increased scrutiny on organisers as they insist the pandemic-postponed Games can go ahead despite surging virus cases around the world.
On Tuesday, Mori said the Games would go ahead “however the coronavirus (pandemic) evolves”.
In December, the Japanese government delayed an almost two decades-old target to have at least 30 percent of leadership positions occupied by women by the end of 2020.