‘Shitsugen’ Are Called ‘Gaffes’ in English

“Shitsugen” are called “gaffes” in English, and America’s new president, Joe Biden, is called the “Gaffe Machine.” Once when he addressed an audience of Black people and Latino immigrants, he said, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” This comment, which was meant to be a rejection of discrimination, instead provoked outrage.

These words clearly revealed a white supremacist mentality, and it goes without saying that they were met with fierce criticism. Worries that this proclivity toward gaffes will become a stumbling block cannot be dismissed even now.

The gaffe machine representing Japan is a former prime minister whose popularity also slumped while in office because of his numerous gaffes. Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympic planning committee, made waves when he said at a meeting that “committees with lots of women take time.” He thinks that women are competitive and that, once one of them talks, all of them feel they have to speak as well. What’s more, he went on to discuss limiting speaking time, making plain his disdain for women’s opinions.

His disclosure of his true feelings springs from the same root as Biden’s gaffe. Needless to say, Mori is the head of a committee that should demonstrate the Olympic spirit — zero tolerance for discrimination by race, sex, sexuality, etc., is a cornerstone of modern Olympic values. Sexist speech is behavior that sullies the Tokyo Olympics. Yesterday Mori apologized and retracted his statements, which were violations of the spirit of the Olympics, while refusing to resign his presidency.* Biden has recovered from his past gaffes by appointing people of many races as well as women to his administration. What will Mori do?

*Editor’s note: Yoshiro Mori resigned as president of the Tokyo Olympic planning committee on Friday, Feb. 12.

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