The ad, which is in English with Japanese subtitles, promotes
ANA's expanded international flight schedule from Tokyo's Haneda
Airport. Japan, host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, is trying to
attract more tourists amid a sharp rise in visitors over the last
year, particularly from Asia.
In the ad, which began airing on Jan 18, two men in ANA pilot
uniforms chat about how they will now be heading off to new
destinations such as Hanoi and Vancouver.
"Let's change the image of Japanese!" one says, and turns to his
companion, who now wears a large fake nose and a brassy blond wig,
in line with Japanese stereotypes about Europeans. "Of course," he
In another version of the ad, one man surprises his companion by
offering to hug him. Public displays of affection, especially
between men, are uncommon in Japan.
The ad unleashed a torrent of mostly negative comments on ANA's
Facebook page, with some people saying they had cancelled their
loyalty cards. Other online commentators, however, said they liked
the commercial while some said it was simply strange, rather than
ANA apologized for the ad on its Facebook page, and Japanese media
said the company had also apologized to customers who called in to
On Tuesday, a spokeswoman said the ad would be taken off air. The
airline had yet to decide what it would do with versions on other
media, she added.
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"We heard a lot of opinions from customers about points in our ad
that didn't match with our intention," the spokeswoman said. "Our
intention was to show Japanese becoming more active and essential to
She said the wig and the fake nose were intended to show Japanese
becoming more accepted overseas, adding the airline did not intend
to discriminate against anybody.
"There were people who took it that way, so we are paying attention
to this and canceling the ad," she said.
The ad aired only in Japan, but also spread on Internet video
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Miral Fahmy)
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