CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Head of Tokyo Olympic committee says it must limit women because they talk too much

February 4, 2021, 10:35 AM UTC

This is the web version of Eastworld, Fortune’s newsletter focused on business and technology in Asia. Subscribe here to get future editions in your inbox.

Japan, an aging nation in which leadership positions in business and government are overwhelmingly dominated by men, had hoped that hosting the summer Olympic Games would afford an opportunity to showcase its vitality and commitment to gender equality.

So it seemed to me a little bizarre when, in 2014, the person Japan chose to lead the Japanese Olympic organizing committee was…another old guy.

Yoshiro Mori was arguably modern Japan’s least popular prime minister. He is undisputedly its most gaffe-prone. He was hounded out of office for, among other blunders, carrying on with his game golf after being informed that a U.S. submarine had collided with a Japanese fishing boat, killing nine people.

On Wednesday, Mori, 83, found himself at the center of a social media firestorm after the Japanese press reported that he had suggested during an online executive meeting of the committee, that the group limit the number of female members because women talk too much.

“On boards with a lot of women, the board meetings take so much time,” Mori said, according to the Asahi Shimbun. “Women have a strong sense of competition. If one person raises their hand, others probably think, I need to say something too. That’s why everyone speaks.”

Mori apparently made the remarks in response to questions about plans to double the proportion of women on the Japanese Olympic Committee to 40% from 20%. “If you increase the number of women, you have to some extent limit the time for their remarks, otherwise you’ll run into trouble because it will never end,” he said.

It was not the kind of publicity Japan’s Olympic effort—or the nation’s current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga—needs.

The Tokyo games spiraled over budget even before the pandemic, which forced organizers to postpone them for a year. Suga’s government is scrambling to convince the world and Japan’s citizens that it can ensure the safety of athletes and visitors to the games, which have been rescheduled to open July 23. Japan remains in a state of emergency and has yet to begin vaccinating its citizens.

A recent survey found that only 16% of Japanese think the games should proceed.

Suga and his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, have championed the idea of “Womenomics”—that government must push through new policies to make it easier for Japanese women to participate in the workplace. In theory, those policies should also help ease the burden to families of raising children, thus slowing the downward spiral in the nation’s birth rate.

Mori spent much of Thursday attempting to apologize and fend off calls for his resignation. Mostly, he just made things worse. Asked if he really thinks that women talk too much he reportedly replied: “I haven’t been listening to women talk recently, so I don’t know.”

He did allow, however, that perhaps he himself should talk a little less.

Clay Chandler

This edition of Eastworld was curated and produced by Grady McGregor. Reach him at

Eastworld news

The People's TikTok

Kuaishou, a Chinese TikTok-like video streaming app, is set to raise $5.4 billion in its Hong Kong debut on Friday at an estimated valuation of $60 billion. The app boasts some 300 million daily active users and is popular in China's rural areas and lower-tier cities, unlike the Bytedance-owned Douyin (TikTok's sister app in China) that caters to a more urban elite crowd. With the IPO, along with booming livestreaming and e-commerce businesses, Kuaishou aims to enter the ranks of China's top tech giants. Fortune

Disney+ India = success

Disney+ has been a smashing success, acquiring nearly 70 million subscribers since the entertainment giant launched the streaming service in November 2019. Subscribers to a service Disney operates in India have accounted for nearly one quarter of that total, but Indian subscribers didn’t sign up to watch The Mandalorian or Marvel movies. Instead, Disney can attribute its success to cricket, as Fortune’s Eamon Barrett explains in a feature this week. Fortune

Ant Group

Late last year, Beijing quashed Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s plans for the blockbuster IPO of Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate. Now it appears Ant Group may be back but in a much-diminished form since the firm and Chinese regulators have reportedly reached a deal to restructure Ant Group’s assets into a new holding company that would be under closer supervision of China’s government. Alibaba, meanwhile, posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings this week, but its stock price fell amid China’s regulatory crackdown. Fortune

A bloodless coup

In one fell swoop, Myanmar’s military seized back control of the 6-year-old democracy on Monday, ousting and taking into custody democratically-elected President Aung San Suu Kyii, jailing politicians and activists, and shutting down phone lines and Internet access across the country. Washington has condemned the coup and hinted at forthcoming sanctions while Beijing asked all sides in Myanmar to “appropriately handle their differences.”Nikkei Asian Review

Team of Rivals

U.S. President Joe Biden is building a cabinet with differing perspectives on China, and it remains an open question whether his administration will provide a unified front in dealing with Beijing. Climate Tsar John Kerry will likely prefer friendly relations with China in order to achieve goals on climate change while Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell may take a more hawkish line on challenging China’s human rights record and business practices. Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus by country


Rain, snow, or COVID-19, the Olympics will go on. “We’ll certainly go ahead however the coronavirus [pandemic] evolves,” Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori said Tuesday. This week, Olympic organizers also unveiled their COVID-19 playbook, a 32-page document outlining the logistics of hosting the games starting in July amid a global pandemic. Japan hasn't decided whether fans will be able to attend events, but if they do, organizers say they will be banned from singing or chanting. Athletes will be asked to not leave the Olympic Village, and likely won't be able to hang around for much time before and after their competitions. New York Times

Markets and movers

Amazon – The U.S. e-commerce giant scored a win in its lengthy battle with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries this week after a New Delhi court blocked Reliance’s $3.4 billion takeover of Indian retailer Future Group at Amazon’s request. Fortune 

Webull – The U.S.-based, Chinese-owned retail trading app has seen a surge in downloads this week amid the trading frenzy over Gamestop. Webull got an extra boost after halting trading on Gamestop for a shorter period than rivals like Robinhood. Fortune 

Microsoft – The American tech giant threw its full support behind a proposed Australian law to force companies like Google and Facebook to pay licensing fees to media outlets in Australia. Microsoft sees the opportunity as a chance to promote its much-maligned search engine Bing. Fortune

Lynas – The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Australian mining giant Lynas $30.4 million to finance the construction of a rare earths processing plant in Texas. China dominates the global rare earths trade, but the U.S. is attempting to bolster its domestic supply. Fortune 

Apple – The U.S. tech giant is nearing a deal with South Korean automaker Hyundai-Kia to build an autonomous Apple-branded vehicle at a plant in the U.S. The 'Apple Car' is tentatively scheduled to go into production in 2024. CNBC

Bytedance – The TikTok owner and Chinese Internet giant is suing social media firm Tencent for anti-competitive behavior, claiming that Tencent’s WeChat super-app bans users from sharing content on Bytedance’s platforms. CNN


Final figure


The Yangon Stock Exchange, which opened in 2016 as Myanmar transitioned to a democracy, was closed for two days this week during the country's military coup. The exchange opened again on Wednesday but the country's benchmark stock index fell 6% as investors feared the re-imposition of sanctions from Washington. The Myanmar stock exchange only has six listed companies, but the former government opened it to foreign investors in 2020 with hopes of drawing in more capital and increasing its economic ties abroad. Nikkei Asian Review