Cornelius & The Olympics
So you may have heard about how the composer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was forced to resign. He’s pretty well known in Japan for his work with Flipper’s Guitar, and outside of Japan for his work under the name of Cornelius.
I was personally pretty shocked when I read the comments that led to his resignation, as I’ve listened to his music for quite a few years now, and been to see him play live before.
From the way it was being reported, that he had been sacked for some comments about bullying he made in a magazine a quarter of a century ago, I thought it was probably some pretty mild form of overzealous accountability culture. But having read through a bunch of Oyamada’s comments, I was wrong.
Should Oyamada have been forced to resign from the Olympics?
Personally, I think given the way the Olympics pretty much aims to make inclusiveness central to it’s very being, I think it is only natural that Oyamada Keigo has been compelled to resign over the comments. I guess the other question for me is, should I still listen to his music? I don’t really know the answer to that question at this stage, but I think it’s good for people that are interested in his music to at least be aware of not just the general gist of the controversy, but the specific content and tone of some of what he has said.
That being said, the comments were part of a large expose on Oyamada Keigo, and his history of bullying that spanned several victims across elementary, middle and high school. So I’m just going to present a few here, in translation, so you get an idea.
Translating Oyamada’s comments on bullying
Reading the comments, it sounded more like an account of potentially criminal level abuse, recounted by someone who sounded less apologetic than, well, kinda boastful.
I’ve tried to translate the text so that it captures the casual, almost trash talking kind of tone, so I’ve used a lot of swear words.
Most of these comments are translated from magazine articles re-published here.
The first part is in question and answer format with an interviewer. Perhaps most damning about the text is the way in which Oyamada seems to laugh after many of the statements. Anyway, here’s some excerpts from what he said:
There was plenty of fretting over the borders in Japan this week, as is happening around the world.
Keigo Oyamada’s Bullying Comments
So, you know, the way I was picking on people was pretty fucked up.
Like you said you were on the bullying side right?
Yeah, I was picking on people. Looking back I was really doing some fucked up shit. So let me use this platform to offer my apologies (laughs), or something like that, you know I was really doing some beyond the pale stuff, believe me.
Like things that shouldn’t be done?
Yeah, I guess you could say I was really getting off the straight and narrow path. You know, I was doing stuff like making people get naked, then wrapping them up with a thread and making them jerk off. Or making them eat shit. And, after making them eat shit, making them do wrestling style back slams.
But it wasn’t me that was actually doing the stuff, I was just the provider of ideas (laughs)
So you were the one looking on from the sidelines, with a cold sweat, savouring the excitement of it all (laughs)?
Yes, yes! Like “wouldn’t it be fun if we tried this” (laughs).
- どきどきして見てる？ みたいな？
Like you were just watching on, getting off, with your blood pumping?
That makes you the worst one out right?
Yeah, looking back, it was pretty fucked up.
About Sawada (fake name)
There was this guy, Sawada.
He was one epoch-making guy, who switched across to our school, around year two of elementary school.
And, I tell you, it sent shock waves through the school.
So when you switch across to a new school, the first thing you do is a self introduction, right? And, right off the bat, he’s like (in the voice of someone with a speech disability) “I’m Sawada” – and, naturally, that’s going to make you go like, “Woah, what a piece of work”, won’t it?
And, on the first day he comes across to our school, he does a shit. And doing a shit at school is just like the worst crime when you’re in elementary school right?
So there was this cardboard box, so we put Sawada in, and then wrapped it up in tape, put in a few air holes (laughs), and then we’re asking him, like, “you alright in there Sawada?”, and he’s, like, “I OK” (laughs).
Then we got out, like, some blackboard dusters, and we say to him “It’s a poison gas attack”, and we start whacking it round,
then we kind of leave him for a bit, and after a while, there’s no response, so we start saying, “yikes, what should we do now?”
so we say “OK, let’s take off the tape and watch from the side of the room”,
and we take off the tape, and all of sudden there’s like this rip, rip, rip, and then, what was it he said? I tell you he said something really hilarious. Some weird arse thing like,“Mummy!” or something, you know something like that (laughs). And I tell you, we just started laughing our arses off.
During High School
As for Jerseys, we’d make him get his gear off, but this fucker just didn’t give a shit about having his dick out one bit, he’s just fidgeting around with his dick swinging.
But, I tell you, this fucker has this big old cock, right from elementary school on, so by High School, it just got bigger and bigger, and, you know, that gets the girls going right?
So everyone was just getting him naked on purpose, and making him walk down the corridors.
But, you know, I’m like Sawada’s biggest fan so I’m like, “that’s not where it’s at”.
Or, I don’t know, I was laughing, but also part of me was pulling back, that sort of thing, people like that are pretty rare, I guess it was like he was someone who had come in from outside and all that.
But you know these people with disabilities, for some reason they just seemed to accumulate at the library.
So the library was kind of like a big old theme park, and not just for my year, but for people like that from every year level, like it was their “safe” place, like the place they could escape to.
So, every now and then we would be like “let’s go down and watch them”, “I wonder what they are doing for lunch break?”. There were like 3 or 4 of us who were into that…
So that’s just a small sample of what is an interview which spans across several pages, and outlines abuse-level bullying against several victims across several years. So, I don’t know whether that means we should never listen to Keigo Oyamada’s music again or not, but I think it’s worth being aware of what people that you might be looking up to in one way or another have said in the past.
We’ve written about some of the music that was actually used in the Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremony here and have translated some of the extremely negative commentary on twitter in Japan leading up to the 2020 Olympics here.
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I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts and on working holiday. I have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1).