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Advocacy group questions decision to use Tokyo Games musician under fire for past bullying

Keigo Oyamada's interview is seen in the March 1995 issue of Quick Japan magazine in this photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 15, 2021. (Mainichi/Kaho Kitayama)

TOKYO -- An advocacy group for those with intellectual disabilities in Japan released a statement on its website on July 18, describing bullying as "unforgivable" in connection with musician Keigo Oyamada, who was named to be in charge of music at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics but came under fire online over past magazine confessions that he bullied classmates for years.

    In the statement, the advocacy group maintained that "bullying and abuse are unforgivable acts, regardless of whether the victim has a disability or not." It also stated, "It's beyond our understanding why Oyamada thought himself fit to be in charge of music at the Olympics, given the Olympic Charter vows to act against 'any form of discrimination,' as well as the Paralympics, which is a festival for athletes with disabilities."

    Oyamada confessed that he had bullied classmates with apparent disabilities in interviews in the January 1994 issue of the Rockin'On Japan magazine and another publication, and this was cited and came under fire on social media. The musician issued an apology on his Twitter account on July 16, expressing "deep regret and responsibility" over his actions. On July 17, Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games CEO Toshiro Muto indicated the committee's intention to keep Oyamada as a creative team member and claimed he "did not know" about the comments made in the magazine interviews.

    The advocacy group pointed out that the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, which appointed the musician to be in charge of music for the Tokyo Games' opening ceremony, and has decided to keep him in the post even after the issues surfaced, "is deeply accountable."

    Furthermore, considering factors including that the Games are just about to be held, and that Oyamada has issued an apology, the group stated that it "will not go so far as to demand that the musician's participation in the Games' music be called off." However, it strongly asserted that following recent events, "there are many people with disabilities, as well as their families and related parties, who have become unable to enjoy the Tokyo Games."

    (Japanese original by the Digital News Center)

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