Tokyo Olympics chief: Women talk too much in meetings when they’re included

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For the past year, I’ve felt so sorry for Japanese government officials and Japanese Olympic Committee officials as they tried to understand the pandemic and what they should do about the summer Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics were supposed to be held last summer – they obviously got pushed back, and the current Olympic gossip is that the Tokyo Olympics will probably be cancelled altogether, especially given that no one knows what the global vaccine rollout will look like by the summer. Against that setting, the Tokyo Olympics chief decided to go off-script and mention that he hates having meetings with women because they talk. I’m choosing to laugh.

Sexist remarks made by Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori have drawn international condemnation, in a further blow to organizers who face criticism for persisting in holding the event this summer despite rising COVID-19 infections and costs.

“I apologize and am remorseful for the remarks,” Mori told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. He said he “withdraws” his comments as they were inappropriate and against the Olympic spirit. However, he said he has “no intention” to step down.

Mori, 83, on Wednesday said board meetings with a lot of women “take so much time,” in comments about a government initiative to increase representation of female directors. “Women have a strong sense of competition,” and that is why “everyone speaks” so much, he added.

The remark immediately caught domestic attention and many Japanese people vented their feelings on social media. His comments eclipsed the International Olympics Committee’s publication the same day of its action guidelines for sports federations. His remarks quickly made waves overseas, and were picked up in publications from The New York Times to The Washington Post and The Guardian.

“Definitely going to corner this guy at the breakfast buffet,” Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian IOC member, tweeted on Thursday.

“Yes, Mr. Mori, women can be concise. For example, to answer you, two words are sufficient: ‘Shut up’,” Nathalie Loiseau, a French politician currently serving as a Member of European Parliament, tweeted in French on Thursday.

Mori, a former prime minister, has a track record of making disparaging remark. In 2000, when recalling a 1969 election win, he said: “When I was greeting farmers from my car, they all went into their homes. I felt like I had AIDS.” As prime minister (2000-2001), his cabinet approval rating plummeted to 9% after poorly handling a fatal collision between a Japanese fishing vessel and a U.S. submarine.

[From Nikkei Asia]

Yes, the dude is wildly sexist and problematic and worse yet, he has no plans to resign. He just issued that faux apology – “takesies backsies, we good?” – and plans to carry on. I’d just like to point out that not only is the dude sexist as hell, he’s also just plain wrong. Most studies show that the more women are included at high levels, the more efficient an organization is. What happens when there are too few women in a meeting is that the men talk over the women and marginalize women and their ideas. When there are more women in a meeting, they gang up on sexist douches like Yoshiro Mori. And that’s why he’s big mad.

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60 Responses to “Tokyo Olympics chief: Women talk too much in meetings when they’re included”

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  1. lucy2 says:

    I would hope he is “disgraced former olympics chief” soon. He may not intend to step down, but hopefully it’s not solely his choice.

  2. Original Jenns says:

    Reading his comment, I’m assuming that after every time he spoke, one of the women involved spoke up and corrected his stupid a&&. And now it’s women talk to much because they shut ME down. If he won’t resign, everyone should talk over him in meetings.

  3. Eleonora says:

    There are several researches where it showed that men think women talked more than men in a meeting, even when they recorded a meeting and women actually talked far less.

    I’m sick of old guys who have always held us back.

    • Darla says:

      ^^^This

      and this dude looks 200 years old, get out of here with these fossils. go home and knit.

    • ThEHufflepuffLizLemon says:

      I’ve tracked it in my own meetings-just yesterday, I had to freaking raise literally my hand to be able to contribute after trying to speak 3-4 times, and it was a valuable contribution, with statistics to support someone who just “felt” that something wasn’t working in a methodology. That’s the difference, a man says, I feel like there’s a gap here, but a woman’s input better have analysis to support it or get dismissed.

      UGH, and this guy? GTFO.

    • SarahCS says:

      YES. This is LITERALLY what men do. I coach a lot of senior leaders and so often it is the women and more introverted men I’m working with who are struggling to make their presence felt in this loud, pseudo-macho, male environment.

    • Myra says:

      This has actually been my experience in meetings. Men talk a lot and a lot of it is nonsense, as well. My favourite is when they grace you with their opinion on your field of expertise.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Oh, Myra, that happens to me a lot. THEY tell ME what’s most important for my subject matter expertise. Irks me no end.

      • Justjj says:

        It’s true. I spend a lot of time in the office waiting for men to stfu about what they did over the weekend so that we can actually start the meeting/before they acknowledge there’s someone trying to walk past them in the hallway/before they actually do any work/etc.

    • Diana says:

      I concur with all of you. Just a way to minimize women’s contributions. Dude, GTFO.

    • lucy2 says:

      Oh for sure. I’ve never seen a meeting where women just talked and talked, uninterrupted. They’re usually quieter.
      And I’ve heard so many women say that their ideas and such get no traction, but a man will repeat it and get praised for it.

      • BeanieBean says:

        yep, that’s happened to me, too. I say something, it goes nowhere, but when it’s repeated in a male voice, that gets heard & lauded & acted upon.

    • RoyalBlue says:

      I am so triggered by this, and fed up of having to deal with this.

    • BL says:

      Me too @Eleonora!!

  4. Evenstar says:

    I mean, I continue to be surprised at people’s surprise when very old people say outdated and/or offensive things. Thankfully, norms and values progress and evolve and are always changing; people very rarely do, or at least much more slowly.

  5. Watson says:

    Hayley Wickenheiser’s tweet made me snort. She’s a gem: Olympic gold hockey player and now medical student and IOC member she is a literal national hero. Mori needs to retire his old sexist entitled ass.

  6. Eleonora says:

    Isn’t having a strong sense of competition part of the Olympics?

    And l, I guess men never compete. How moronic.

  7. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Look at him. He looks like the alien in Predator. This is his last gasp. Ugh.

  8. Aphra says:

    I don’t think this is laughable at all. I’m with Ahully1; this is infuriating, hateful, evil thinking that pervades so many societies and too many minds in our own societies. Not cute. Not funny. Fire his ass.

  9. Feedmechips says:

    This guy realizes this the Olympics are a literal competition, right?

  10. Amanda says:

    He’s an 83 year old man from Japan. I’m not surprised. He should just retire by now.

  11. Willow says:

    Don’t care how old he is, sounds like this guy has been offensive his entire life. So it’s not about his age. It’s about a privileged person given too much power and too many second chances. So he’s says whatever ignorant thought pops into his head because he knows no matter how many people he offends he’ll get away with it. Sound familiar?

  12. Reddy says:

    Is this view uncommon in Japan? My husband said when he worked there in the 90s, it was considered perfectly acceptable for a man interviewing a woman in a job interview to ask her what color underwear she was wearing. That was almost 30 years ago and I’m sure things have changed, but I still get the impression that Japanese views of women’s “place” differs from the US/Canada and Europe

    • Bettyrose says:

      I worked in Japan for several years and the easiest way to describe office life (in the early 00s) would be to say it was exactly like Mad Men.

    • LeenaK says:

      Surprising to no one who’s ever lived in Japan. Outdated views on & expectations of women.

      https://www.google.ca/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/05/high-heels-at-work-are-necessary-says-japan-labour-minister

    • Pusspants says:

      I lived in Japan from 2013-2015 and it was pretty clear that certain sexist beliefs about women that were once common in the West still persisted there. For instance, it’s a fairly common belief women should stop working once they get married and are ready to have kids. Of course in other ways Japan is far beyond the West, but in this area they have large room for improvement.

    • Ann says:

      My husband had a Japanese intern in the 90s, when we were first married. He was a young lawyer doing a year-long stint in the US to beef up his international practice credentials. He spoke English fairly well, but culturally, he was a fish out of water. We had him over for dinner one night, during which I asked him about himself, and at one point he just turned to my husband and said “Your wife asks a lot of questions.” It was kind of funny, but I was also pretty offended. We didn’t have him back.

    • liz says:

      In the early 90s, I worked for a NY based law firm that did a lot of business with Japanese companies and had a law firm in Tokyo that it worked with regularly as local counsel. The New York partner I worked for insisted on working with the one woman parter at that Japanese firm. He told me that if she had made parter at a Japanese law firm, she was the single best lawyer in Japan because she had overcome a level of sexism unheard of in the United States.

      It seems that not much has changed in 30 years.

  13. Gil says:

    I live in Japan. Anyone familiar enough with Japan would know that this kind of thing is not new at all. Let me tell you the only people disagreeing with this statement is the foreign media and some English outlets here. Japanese people are mad not at this dude statement but a the foreign media for “talking” shit about their country. It’s infuriating and that why sometimes I hate it here.

    • Evenstar says:

      Sounds like the reaction a lot of Indian news outlets and celebrities (AKA government mouthpieces) has to Western celebrities calling out the police brutality and crackdown on farmer protesters, most of whom are from a religious minority. Like, maybe clean up your sh*t and you won’t feel embarrassed on a global stage?

    • Watson says:

      @GIL: Accurate

  14. ennie says:

    I am not an expert by any means, I just follow some bloggers who speak my language and live in Japan, and they have commented on the cultural differences, starting with the type of Japanese used in different formal and informal occasions, and how more formal meetings are conducted.
    One of them, a mom, used to have misunderstandings for trying todo anything a little too different or out of lockstep within the mom community, not even the PTA association. That attitude seems to be deeply entrenched in their culture.
    Some of then have commented of the way the formal meeting sometimes follow a certain protocol that makes them take too much time, and I bet that anything that is out of their comfort male zone shakes them to the core, and probably view the women as newbies on top of sexism, and they resent they taking time for speaking or making any suggestion.
    I respect many things I see in Japanese culture, more so that I hail from a country where there are feminicides, and is generally unsafe.
    I hope women show them we can do things just as well, or even better. Their rigid views against anything affects improvement.

  15. hello kitty says:

    Yeh because men in business are known for listening respectfully

  16. Katie says:

    a wild guess – the meetings with women feel long to him because he doesn’t listen to women and when they speak, he’s bored. how do I know this? because that has been my experience, a number of men just doesn’t respect women enough to listen in situations when they’d likely listen to a man. hope the society can learn something from this incident and hopefully evolve to be better and less misogynist

  17. Jules says:

    This isn’t funny, this is deplorable.

  18. L84Tea says:

    I can’t say I am shocked. This is a country whose royal court still follows the “males only” tradition as their emperors.

  19. tlady drake says:

    he needs to have SEVERAL seats. the meetings that I have with all women are far more productive in FAR less time than those with mixed company. the ‘whatabouts’ that men raise vs. the high level discussion/direction from the women are in such stark contrast.

  20. Lwt00 says:

    and they wonder why they have a national birth rate crisis. With attitudes like this in business it can’t be much better in relationships. lots of women must not want to put up with that crap.

  21. GrnieWnie says:

    I’m so sick of 80-year-olds in positions of power.

  22. Mar says:

    When Japanese government decides to stop the slaughtering of dolphin pods in Tiaji, I expect nothing but nonsense from him.

  23. Samanthalous says:

    Their society is still heavily male dominated, working women cannot even wear eyeglasses, women executives still serve tea, and they still use fax machines!!

    • BeanieBean says:

      OMG!! And…wowzers! I swear, if ever I have the occasion to work with/attend a meeting with some random Japanese male exec, I’m going to wear my glasses & point him to the teapot in the break room.

    • Deering24 says:

      Why can’t they wear eyeglasses? Really?!! 😛

  24. Miss Melissa says:

    F#$& that guy.

  25. BeanieBean says:

    Argghhhh!!!!!! What the actual f—? I know this attitude exists, my work entails a lot of meetings, but yeesh, to state this publicly. And you KNOW by ‘talk too much’ he means ‘talk’ & ‘express opinions different from my own superior male opinions’.
    Ok, that response was based on the headline, now I’ll go back & read the article.

  26. L says:

    I have a boss who says this “women are competitive” line (implication being they can’t work together or help each other or be true friends because they’re too busy trying to one up each other) and it drives me crazy. Especially because she’s a woman who manages a team of women who SURPRISE work together really well.

    The idea that women are competitive is so toxic. It is men who pit women against each other. And it’s my boss who likes to play games of favourites. These people are manipulative.

  27. Liz version 700 says:

    This guy is quite an a$$. So confident in his misogyny and sure all will share his humor. Be gone!

  28. ellie says:

    Gee, I guess we can’t all punch each other in the nutsack and be done with it.

  29. Beana says:

    How do you say “OK Boomer” in Japanese?

  30. Commentator says:

    This may be exacerbated by the attempt women in Japan may be making to be extra pleasing to these older men, in order to not offend, especially if they are few in number in that group. Language is super structured there with respect for elders, etc. so their being extra respectful and polite probably comes across as ‘talking too much’ which makes it extra offensive. These guys don’t seem to relate to anyone’s experience or perspective except their own.

  31. Justwastingtime says:

    Uh huh.

  32. A.Key says:

    What he really meant was “women dare to talk at all and have an opinion to boot which is complete nonsense and waste of time, so we don’t want them present in the room”. He’s probably mad women are even working on the Committee and allowed out of the kitchen, lol.

  33. Deering24 says:

    Hoo, boy. This boils down to “Bitches cackle, opine, and nag too much, kinda like my mother/ wife/mother-in-law.” I guarantee you.