Olympic Scandal: Musician Oyamada Keigo’s Horrific Abuse of Disabled Classmates

Olympic Scandal: Musician Oyamada Keigo’s Horrific Abuse of Disabled Classmates

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Highly disturbing elements of famed guitarist Cornelius' past have now come to light - and enveloped the Olympics in yet another scandal.

Content Warning: This article contains a brief description of mental and physical abuse of disabled minors. Reader discretion is advised.

If you can sum up the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics in one word, it would be cursed. The government and International Olympic Committee’s persistent “the show must go on” attitude amid the coronavirus pandemic has polarized the majority of Japan against the Olympics. It’s fairly obvious at this point that the IOC and Tokyo Olympics Committee aren’t really prioritizing people’s health and safety. Public outcry has forced many involved with the Olympics to step down: former Tokyo Olympics Chief Mori Yoshiro resigned after a slew of sexist comments. Creative director Sasaki Hiroshi stepped down due to fire backlash when he suggested dressing up celebrity Watanabe Naomi as an “Olympig”.

The most recent target of everyone’s ire is musician and producer Oyamada Keigo, aka Cornelius. The TOC hired him as one of four composers in charge of music for the opening and closing ceremonies. The Olympics organizing committee announced Oyamada’s participation on July 15; almost immediately afterward people questioned their decision to hire him, citing two interviews in which he recounted bullying disabled classmates during his school years.

A Sordid Past Comes to Light

In the two 1994 and 1995 interviews from Rockin’ On Japan and Quick Japan, respectively, a seemingly remorseless Oyamada admitted to numerous horrific acts against his disabled classmates, including but not limited to forcing them to masturbate, eat feces, and convincing other classmates to bully a student with Down’s syndrome. It’s worth mentioning that the Quick Japan interview was featured in the magazine’s “Bullying Travelogue” section dedicated to the voices of bullies, as well as the bullied. It really doesn’t get more tone-deaf than that.


小山田圭吾さんが「いじめ加害者」だったと告白した約26年前の記事に関して、若者向けカルチャー雑誌『クイック・ジャパン』の出版元である太田出版が7月19日に謝罪声明を公式サイトで 発表した 。 …

(JP) Link: “It Was Inappropriate and Promoted Discrimination”: Ota Publishing Apologizes for Publishing Oyamada Keigo Bullying Article

Some see this backlash as just another case of pitchfork mob mentality. However, Shiraiwa Yoshiko, a mother of a disabled child, succinctly summed up why so many are up in arms over Oyamada:


People are protesting due to the fact that Oyamada’s never atoned for his sins and that he made a glib apology only because his crimes were exposed. They’re saying, “If he’s repentant, then show it with your actions! Resign!” It’s also not just a protest against him, but against those responsible who continued to vouch for his appointment.”

A Domino Effect

Oyamada posted a statement on Twitter, apologizing to the victims for his cruelty. His words inspired next to no sympathy. The magazine publishers also issued apologies for publishing the articles, but like Oyamada’s apology, they’re over 20 years too late. The organizing committee issued a non-statement (par for the course, really) addressing Oyamada’s past and his sincere regret while also encouraging his continued involvement. Following Oyamada’s resignation on July 19, however, they quickly backtracked and apologized for failing to properly screen him. They’re still looking for his replacement, and have pulled his music from the ceremonies. Even NHK has already gone ahead and removed Oyamada’s music from two of its children’s educational programs. As of this writing, Oyamada is still slated to perform at Fuji Rock Festival in August.

The outcry against Oyamada seems to have prompted others with less than stellar past behaviors to rethink their involvement with the Olympics. Illustrated book author Nobumi, originally part of the Tokyo 2020 Nippon Festival, stepped down on July 20, the day after Oyamada tendered his resignation. People criticized Nobumi’s descriptions of harassment against teachers in his autobiography, as well as his suggestions that unborn children choose to be disabled or sick. Just recently, people are pulling up video clips of past anti-Semitic comments by director Kobayashi Kentaro. Kobayashi has already resigned from his positions, mere hours before the opening ceremonies.


Despite all this and other controversies, the Olympics are barrelling on, with some games already commencing despite confirmed COVID-19 cases among some athletes. The Olympics committee can tout their “diversity and harmony” theme all they want, but who, if anyone, is buying it at this point?

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Alyssa Pearl Fusek

Alyssa Pearl Fusek is a freelance writer currently haunting the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Willamette University. When she's not writing for Unseen Japan, she's either reading about Japan, writing poetry and fiction, or drinking copious amounts of jasmine green tea. Find her on Bluesky at @apearlwrites.

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