"Need a black actor, get a black actor that speaks Japanese"

A Japanese TV show has been criticised for racism and blackface after a comedian painted his face to impersonate Eddie Murphy.

The BBC reports that Japanese celebrity comic Hamada appeared in a Beverly Hills Cop skit with his face painted black for a New Year’s Eve show.

US columnist Baye McNeil, who is lived in Japan for 13 years, posted an image of the show on Twitter with the caption, “Note to japanese performing in : is not a punchline nor a prop. Need jokes? Get better writers. Need a black character, get a black actor that speaks Japanese. There are several! But please “.

Using make up to represent black people is known as ‘blackface’ and is regarded as offensive. Some were quick to agree with McNeil, calling the Japanese TV show’s blackface as inexcusable.

Another was worried about the effects it would have on the young in Japan. “I guess the performer doesn’t have intentions to mock blacks,” wrote the user. “But I’m worried about that it can give a false images to Japanese children. Actually I think such time-wasting comedy programs give even juveniles bad effects.”

However, many jumped to the Japanese show’s defence. Replying to McNeil’s post, one Twitter user wrote, “You’re real proud of yourself, aren’t you? You’re going to fix a non-problem in Japan by imposing American guilt on them… What’s inappropriate for the US doesn’t apply worldwide”.

Another added, “Have you actually paid any attention to how much detail Hama-chan(the comedian) cares about? The clothes, shoes, he really wanted to be Eddy Murphy. We can see his love and respect for Eddy Murphy’s epic comedy. BUT YOU DON’T. You see minstrel show, slaves and hate.”

One user seemed outrage at the racist accusation, writing, “The comedian was dressed up as Eddie Murphy! For Christ sake! How is this racist??????????????? This is a crazy mass hysteria!”

In response, McNeil wrote a longer post on Facebook in which he said,  “I don’t think it’s necessarily racist. I don’t. At least not intentionally. But it is definitely problematic regardless of whether the people doing it have racist motives or not. “