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Jewish human rights group slams past 'anti-Semitic jokes' by Tokyo Olympic show director

The statement issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center is displayed on a mobile device. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization based in the United States, issued a statement on July 21 criticizing Japanese comedian Kentaro Kobayashi, the show director of the Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony, over past "anti-Semitic jokes."

    The criticism comes after a clip in which Kobayashi apparently used the Holocaust as part of a joke circulated online.

    Kobayashi is a former member of the Japanese comedy unit Rahmens, and the clip is believed to be of one of their skits from a video that went on sale in 1998. In the skit, Kobayashi is said to have explained the reason for having lots of paper cutouts of human figures as being from a time when they "played the Holocaust."

    "Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide," the center said in its statement.

    On July 22, Kobayashi was dismissed from his position, according to a source close to the Olympic organizing committee.

    (Mainichi Digital News Center)

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