The head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee has resigned after he was criticized for making “inappropriate” remarks about women.
Yoshiro Mori, 83, was quoted as saying women talk too much and that meetings with many female board directors would “take a lot of time”.
This remarks ignited a firestorm of protest and Mr Mori apologized at the time but said he would not resign.
On Friday he apologized for his “inappropriate statement”.
“What is important is to hold the Olympics from July. It must not be the case that my presence becomes an obstacle to that,” he said at a special committee meeting on Friday, where he also announced his resignation.
For now, it is not immediately clear who will replace Mr Mori, a former Japanese prime minister. He had initially selected well-known sports administrator Saburo Kawabuchi, 84, to replace him but this also led to protests.
The resignation came as a result of the pressure mounted on him over the past week. Major sponsors came forward to criticize his comments, including Toyota, one of the biggest Olympic backers.
In the words of Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda, the company was “disappointed”.
On Tuesday, a group of female lawmakers wore white in a protest against his remarks, with some men doing the same in solidarity.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she would not attend a meeting of high-level Olympic officials in protest.
As reported by Local Media, almost 400 people have also withdrawn applications to volunteer at the Olympic Games, which are scheduled for later this year in reaction to his comments.
Currently, the committee board has a total of 24 members, five of whom are women.
In 2019, the committee – which is responsible for selecting Japanese Olympians – set itself a goal of increasing the number of female board directors to 40%.
“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” Mr Mori was quoted as saying.
“We have about seven women at the organizing committee, but everyone understands their place.”
Such a statement is not new, Mr Mori is well known in the country for a string of gaffes and undiplomatic statements made while in office from 2000 to 2001.
He told Japan’s Mainichi newspaper that female family members had also lambasted him after his comments.
“Last night, my wife gave me a thorough scolding. She said: ‘You’ve said something bad again, haven’t you? I’m going to have to suffer again because you’ve antagonized women’,” he said.
“This morning, my daughter and granddaughter scolded me as well,” the paper quoted him as saying.