Air Nippon ad accused of racism
View the Air Nippon Airways advertisement that has provoked objections over its portrayal of westerners.
Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways says it is modifying a TV commercial after apologising to customers who complained it used racist stereotyping.
But the airline insists it meant no offence.
ANA started airing the new 30-second television advertisement on Saturday, aimed at promoting its beefed up schedule of international flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport in March.
In the commercial, two Japanese men in ANA uniform discuss in English how they might boost the image of the airline as an international carrier.
One of them says: "Let's change the image of Japanese people."
"Sure," replies the other, who is now wearing a blonde wig and an improbably long rubber nose.
White westerners are often believed in Japan to have big noses, blue eyes and blonde hair, characteristics generally thought desirable among Japanese.
The ad caused a stir among English-language users of social media in Japan.
ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura says the carrier wanted to express the importance of the planned expansion of international services from Haneda and to call on Japanese to go out to see the world.
"But we have received opinions different from the message that we wished to convey," he said.
"We will modify part of the advertisement and will release the second version soon."
Earlier, an ANA spokeswoman acknowledged the carrier "has received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad."
Japan is largely racially homogenous, with relatively small immigrant communities.