TOKYO (AP) — After appointing women and former Olympians to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics board to counter criticism it was dominated by old men, organizers now face a possible new controversy over the appointment of a music producer.
The 34-member board now includes seven women — including two Olympians — as well as Yasushi Akimoto, the man behind AKB48, a singing and dancing "idol" act featuring dozens of young women that some find musically inane and sexist.
The group and its spinoffs are popular not only in Japan, but also other Asian nations and the Japanese government has often appointed them as ambassadors for what it calls "cool Japan" culture.
Tokyo's Olympic committee, headed by 76-year-old former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, came under scrutiny for the lack of female and younger members on the executive board.
Almost as soon as the new members were announced, a petition began circulating on the Internet protesting Akimoto's appointment. It has collected more than 11,000 signatures and aims to collect 10 times that.
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