TOKYO – Keigo Oyamada, a Japanese composer working on the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, resigned on Monday after coming under fire for bullying classmates during his childhood.
“I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts,” he said on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”
Reports of his past abuse of classmates, including those with disabilities, surfaced online recently and sparked a backlash on social media plus demands for his resignation.
The Tokyo Games organizers said on Sunday that he would stay on because he had shown remorse.
Oyamada, 52, also known as Cornelius, apologized online last week.
Some critics had said he should hold a news conference and apologize in person. Others questioned why he hadn’t apologized earlier.
Oyamada, whose works have been compared to the American rock musician Beck, talked about the abuse in Japanese magazine interviews he gave in the 1990s.
In a statement on Sunday, Atsuko Kubo, head of an association of families of the mentally disabled, “strongly protested" against Oyamada's past actions and said it was disturbing he had targeted the disabled, who were less likely to fight back and that he still bragged about it years later.
Earlier Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Oyamada's past bullying goes against government policy of achieving an inclusive society and “cannot be tolerated."
It was not immediately clear if the music for Friday's opening ceremony would be modified. The show will be held without spectators in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.
The resignation comes as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government faces criticism for prioritizing the Olympics despite the public's health concerns amid the resurgence of the infections.
Oyamada’s is the latest resignation to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president over remarks perceived as sexist. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress as a pig.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama