The Japanese media is under criticism for its lack of interest in the actual sport of tennis

Up-and-coming tennis player Naomi Osaka made headlines earlier this month after winning her first ever Grand Slam title against the venerable Serena Williams. Since then she has became a huge celebrity in Japan because she is half Japanese, and has even stirred up controversy about what it means to be Japanese.

This “Naomi boom”, as some journalists are calling it, has pushed Japanese reporters to nearly trip over each other for the chance to interview and photograph her on her recent trip to Japan, where she competed in the Pan Pacific Open. But the poor quality of their questions has some Japanese netizens embarrassed, since the reporters are clearly not very interested in Osaka’s tennis career. 

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Shortly after arriving in Japan, just after her win in the U.S. open, Osaka participated in the above press conference and photo shoot, and while some of the questions asked at that time were serious inquiries about her tennis career, many were irrelevant personal questions, particularly about her time in Japan.

“What are you going to eat while you’re here?” was one question, and “I know you’ll be busy, but is there anything you’d like to do in Japan?” Another even asked, “What kind of Instagram photos are you planning to take while you’re here?”

They may seem like harmless questions, but there is one major issue: they seemed to completely ignore the monumental accomplishments Osaka achieved in her U.S. Open win and focused entirely on her time in Japan.

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While throughout the above interview Osaka doesn’t seem necessarily frustrated by this fact, Japanese netizens definitely were. Clearly they wanted to learn more about Osaka’s experience in the U.S. Open, but the reporters wasted valuable interview time asking mundane things like “What is your favorite Japanese word?”

That wasn’t the only time the Japanese media embarrassed themselves, either. After Osaka ended up losing to Karolina Pliskova in the Pan Pacific Open final on September 23, she found herself surrounded by Japanese press yet again. Unlike the previous interview, though, this particular interview, which was a lot shorter, actually contained quite a few questions about the match. But the very last question seemed to surprise even the normally laid-back Osaka: “During your tight schedule, what are you doing to relax?”

“Is that really what you want to ask as the last question?” she responded. “Really? I’ll answer it, but are you sure?” She did answer it, but it wasn’t a very enthusiastic answer, and it was clear how little she thought of the question. To waste the final question at a critical, emotional moment for her on a trivial topic must have seemed ridiculous. At least, that’s how Japanese netizens felt, as they openly criticized both interviews:

“Osaka just said what everyone else wants to say. I hope the media learns from it.”
“It can’t be helped since the reporters don’t know anything about tennis. Sorry about Japan’s idiot reporters.”
“It’s just proof that Japanese reporters are low-quality.”
“That’s about the level of quality of the majority of Japanese reporters, Naomi-chan.”
“The quality of the questions is awful. They’re just looking for content for gossip shows.”
“I always become painfully aware of how pathetic the Japanese media is when I watch press conferences.”
“The questions asked during Naomi Osaka’s interview are so bad that I can’t keep watching it.”
“I feel so bad for Naomi Osaka. I’m so embarrassed by the Japanese media.”

Granted, the kind of personal-life tidbits requested by Japanese reporters, and especially those asked of foreign celebrities about their favorite parts of Japanese culture, are the kinds of things a lot of Japanese people like to ask foreigners themselves. But many netizens made it clear that they’d have liked reporters to take the opportunity to talk with Osaka, a rising star of the tennis world, about tennis.

Source: Yahoo! News, YouTube/Asahi Shinbunsha via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Instagram/naomiosakatannis