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Tokyo Olympics chief suggests regulating women's speaking time

Tokyo Olympics chief suggests regulating women's speaking time
© Photo by TAKASHI AOYAMA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The president of the Japanese Olympic Committee overseeing the upcoming Tokyo Games on Wednesday sparked backlash after suggesting during a committee meeting that the board should regulate the speaking time allotted for female members because they talk too much. 

Yoshiro Mori, who also previously served as Japan’s prime minister from 2000 to 2001, responded to a question on the committee’s plan to increase female representation on the board to more than 40 percent. 

According to a translated report from Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Mori responded by saying, “On boards with a lot of women, the board meetings take so much time.” 

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“Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others probably think, 'I need to say something, too.' That’s why everyone speaks,” he added, according to The New York Times

According to the Agence France-Presse translation, Mori then said, “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.” 

However, Mori reportedly noted that women already on the committee should not be restricted on the length of time they are allowed to speak, as they “have experienced international arenas.” 

“That’s why their talk is sophisticated, gets to the point, and they are very useful,” he added, the Times reported. 

The remarks come as the committee faces scrutiny over whether the already-postponed Summer Games will be further delayed or canceled amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Mori on Tuesday said in a meeting with lawmakers that the Games, scheduled to begin July 23, will be held “no matter what situation would be with the coronavirus.” 

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Twitter users were quick to respond to Mori’s Wednesday remarks on female board members, with some suggesting the 83-year-old held outdated ideas about women and others going so far as calling on Mori to resign

Mori said Tuesday that the Olympic torch relay is still slated to begin as scheduled March 25, adding that the committee is determining what precautions it will take to avoid transmission of the virus.

As of Wednesday, Japan has had nearly 397,000 coronavirus infections, with more than 6,000 fatalities due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.