Tokyo Olympics organisers insist they are happy for a famous Japanese musician to continue as a composer for next week’s opening ceremony despite interviews resurfacing where he described abusing mentally ill classmates and forcing them to carry out sex acts in front of other students.
Keigo Oyamada, better known by his stage name Cornelius, has been one of Japan’s most successful singer-songwriters over a career spanning more than 25 years and was this week named as one of the music composers for the Olympics opening ceremony.
That announcement saw two interviews he gave to Japanese music magazines in 1994 and 1995 resurface, in which he described inflicting horrific abuse on his peers when at school.
He describes locking a disabled classmate in a box, taping a cardboard box around his head and pouring chalk inside, wrapping him in a mattress and kicking him, making him eat his own faeces, and forcing him to masturbate in front of other students.
Following criticism of his Olympic role, Oyamada released a statement on Friday apologising for his actions but declined to step down from his role.
“I apologise from the bottom of my heart,” said the 52-year-old. “In past magazine interviews, I spoke of my thoughtless remarks and actions towards my classmates in my school days and people with disabilities at neighbouring schools without reflecting on what I did at the time. I take it seriously that I deserve to be criticised.
Keigo Oyamada apologised 'from the bottom of his heart'
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
“I sincerely apologise to my classmates and their parents who have been hurt by my words and actions, and I feel deep regret and responsibility for not being a good friend in school life, which is supposed to make good memories, but being in a position to hurt them.
“When I was a student and at the time of the interview, I couldn’t imagine the feelings of the victims. I think I was very immature.”
On his role in the opening ceremony, Oyamada added: “Maybe I should have declined the offer, considering that some people would be uncomfortable with my participation for various reasons.
“However, I heard both the resolution and anxiety of the creators who are struggling to make the opening ceremony even a little better in a difficult situation with many issues, and as a result of careful consideration, I decided to accept the offer because I wished that my music could be of any help.”
Asked on Saturday about Oyamada’s involvement in the opening ceremony, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said he wanted the musician to remain involved.
“At the moment, he has made a full apology,” said Muto. “He is sorry for his past actions and he has said that he wants to act with high morals.
“It is true that the organising committee was not aware of what Oyamada had done in the past. However, we have heard Oyamada’s apology and we are hoping that he will continue to contribute to the Tokyo Games.”