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Japanese TV show's use of blackface sparks outrage

OUTRAGE: Japanese comic Masatoshi Hamada in blackface (Photo credit: @Locohama/Twitter)

A JAPANESE TV programme has come under fire after allowing one of the country's most famous comedians to paint his face black to impersonate Eddie Murphy.

The New Year's Eve show featuring Masatoshi Hamada shows the comedian wearing blackface and impersonating Eddie Murphy in a Beverly Hills Cops skit.

US-born writer and columnist Baye McNeil - who is black and has lived in Japan for 13 years - drew attention to the show on Twitter, arguing that black people were "not a punchline nor a prop".

"Need a black actor, get a black actor that speaks Japanese," he said.

However, the use of blackface in this show has sparked a debate, especially over whether Japanese audiences are aware of how the practice of blackface is widely deemed as racist.

Some Twitter uses defended Hamada's use of blackface:

While other Twitter users called out the racism and xenophobia which is prevalent in the country:

"I've had numerous conversations with my Japanese friends about the innocuous nature of Blackface in Japan (due to their not having a racialized history or historical ties to Blackface...which is inaccurate)," Mr McNeil writes on Facebook.

"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."

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