Japanese noodle company Nissin have removed a controversial commercial following a dispute over the skin colour of a cartoon character depicting tennis player Naomi Osaka.
The commercial depicted Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, with pale skin and light brown hair, which created a public outcry.
"Truly disappointed to see that there was no woman of colour to speak of in the commercial," African-American journalist Baye McNeil wrote in his prominent `Black Eye` column for the Japan Times. "Instead, I found a white-washed representation of Osaka"
Nissin, who sponsor Osaka and compatriot Kei Nishikori, removed the advert from its YouTube page on Wednesday and said that they had not intended to `whitewash` the 21-year-old, who will feature in the Australian Open semi-finals later on Thursday.
"There is no intention of whitewashing," a Nissin spokesperson said. "We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issues in the future."
Japan has traditionally seen itself as a racially homogenous country, although several successful mixed-race athletes like Osaka, sprinter Asuka Cambridge and baseball pitcher Yu Darvish, are challenging that image.
Osaka has not commented on the commercial.