Following Japan’s 1-0 victory over France in the friendly football (soccer to our North American readers) match last week, a French variety show host made a joke that has touched a nerve here in Japan.
Alluding to Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima’s impressive skills on the field, the show presented an edited image of the player, showing him with four arms.
The show’s presenter then suggested that Kawashima’s additional limbs might be the result of “the Fukushima effect” and that they had grown after exposure to radiation leaked from the nuclear plant damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. While the joke went down well during the show, many Japanese are understandably very upset…
The Japan Football Association (JFA) condemned the remark, saying that “this is not a subject to make jokes about” and appealed to the Japanese embassy in France to pressure the broadcaster, France 2, to apologise for the distasteful gag. The embassy is reported to have sent a letter of protest to France 2 immediately afterwards.
France 2 has since gone on record to state that it was not presenter Laurent Ruquier’s intention to show disrespect to the victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and that he was attempting to compliment Kawashima’s goalkeeping skills while mocking his own country’s performance.
While many commentators were quick to remark that the show’s studio audience laughed and applauded the joke at the time, it is worth remembering that these people are often compensated for attending the show, and are usually given prompts telling them when to laugh or respond appropriately.
Even so, considering that tens of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes, along with most of their possessions, immediately after the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant went critical in March 2011, and that the long-term effects of the accident will not be known for some time, it is perhaps a little soon to be making jokes about bodily mutation and sporadic limb growth.
While we here at RocketNews24 are never shy of making cheeky jokes of our own, even we know the difference between a risqué joke and a cheap laugh, and are glad to see that the broadcaster has at least apologised for the guff.