Professional tekken player Tanukana was kicked out of Osaka-based esports team Cyclops Athlete Gaming for remarks she made about men’s height during a livestream, following a recent series of much more inflammatory remarks.
Cyclops Athlete Gaming competes in first-person shooters like PUBG, Call of Dutyand Rainbow Six Siege as well as fighting games like tekken. She has been featured in the mainstream Japanese press, including this extract from Journal Kobe Shimbun. She was like Kotaku‘s Ian Walker previously wrote, a rising star.
In a February 15 stream, Tanukana said, “Men who are less than 170cm (5ft 6.9in) tall have no human rights.” She added that they should consider having bone-lengthening surgery. (According to Health linethe average height of men in Japan is 170.8 cm or 5 ft 7.2 in.) At the time of writing, Kotaku was unable to confirm the contents of the entire stream. However, in this extract, Tanukana also said that people with size A breasts also have no human rights. She certainly looks like she has a record of saying terrible things. Blog Flash info about my game dug up earlier comments Tanukana made in a livestream in 2020, in which she apparently told someone during a stream to “kill themselves” and that they were “the trashiest trash in society.”
While in the West some might interpret his remarks as bad same or a joke, in Japan he started a firestorm online with people call it discriminatory. Obviously, you can literally read it as a remark against a group of people, but the power dynamics make that a bit more complicated than saying something really discriminatory about a protected or vulnerable class.
In one tweet now deletedthat we can see here, Tanukana wrote, “I have been pointed out that my feed contains hate speech.” She added that it was not her intention and that she expressed her love of tall people badly. She apologized, but it wasn’t the kind of formal apology you expect in Japan. This made people online even more upset.
In Japanese, the word for human rights is jinken (人権). But in game language, jinken refers to an item or character that all players must possess. On Twitter, a debate ensued over whether slang led to Tanukana’s remark. However, the slang use of the term “human rights” is not widely known in Japan, and many mainstream media outlets have led with Tanukana’s daunting comment.
When J-Cast News covered the story on Yahoo! News, the popular news site titled its article, “Men Under 170cm Have No Human Rights” The popular female pro gamer says “sorry” for the abusive language. (Note that J-Cast provided a transcript of the stream, and only the pitch commentary is mentioned.) The most popular game sites in Japan like Flash info about my game resumed the storyalso leading with its commentary on men’s sizes, as did the coverage that followed from mainstream sites like Nikkan Gendai, Tokyo Sports, Daily sports, Nico-Nicoand more.
Cyclops too apologizedwriting: “We have confirmed that on February 15, Tanukana, who is a member of Cyclops Athlete Gaming, made an inappropriate remark on a stream. On this matter, we would like to offer our deepest apologies to the fans, sponsors and all those who support us.
And Tanukana apologize again with a more formal tweet that was addressed to fans and team sponsor Red Bull. “I have deep remorse for this statement, which is unbecoming of a professional esports athlete and member of society,” Tanukana wrote.
Moreover, all this happened in a context where “pro gamer” has been officially defined in Japan, and where there are licenses to play professionally. According to the Japan Esports Union, one of the main points that defines a professional gamer is “the self-awareness of being a professional”. This stipulation seems to have been added so that esports pros are taken seriously in Japan.
Tanukana’s Cyclops page had a long list of sponsors that included Alienware and Red Bull. Following the controversy, all sponsors were removed from his page. Sponsors don’t want controversy, even if things seem over the top. Teams need sponsors. It seems like something – or someone – must have given way, and that’s exactly what happened. Cyclops announced later he had terminated Tanukana’s contract.
Since the initial publication of this article, Tanukana’s dismissal has truly spread across the country. ANN News, one of the country’s largest news stations, broadcast the incident, reporting that Tanukana was fired after making a comment about men under 170cm having no human rights.
While comments about Tanukana’s size were clearly far from the nastiest remarks she’s made on a stream, they arguably ended up insulting, from the sponsors’ apparent point of view, half the men in a country where the average height is 170.8 cm.
It was alleged that she made much worse comments during this flowcorn Kotaku was unable to verify these remarks as the stream was deleted and Japanese news sites only reported pitch remarks.
February 21, popular Japanese blog Hachima Kikou reported that in a now-deleted tweet, Tanukana apparently wrote how she accepted “justified criticism” for her remarks and was remorseful. According to the tweet, she added that she had consulted a lawyer about “lies” that she also allegedly discriminated against members of the black and LGBTQ communities. “The response I get is that it is illegal to spread lies as truth so please stop it,” the tweet read. Kotaku was unable to verify the now-deleted tweet first-hand, and as noted on the Japanese site MatomedanTwitter users wonder why the tweet was apparently deleted.
However, during a livestream in 2018 with South Korean player Kkokkoma, Tanukana laughed while saying in Japanese: “Gay? When you say who is more gay, it’s Kkokkoma. Then in English, she said, “Everyone says, ‘Kkokkoma is gay.” (It seems that there was a meme somehow about Kkokkoma’s sexuality – a meme, which, of course, is done to the detriment of homosexuals.) After this incident, there was a complaint to his team that Tanukana had made fun of homosexuals. Later, in an official Cyclops fluxshe denied doing that, saying that the person who made the claim was a liar, that it was a fabrication and that it was a misunderstanding made by someone who was not intelligent. “You have to go back and start all over again from kindergarten,” she said, adding that if someone has enough free time to make such complaints, they should go get a job.
Update, 02/18/22, 04:00 ET: Further information has been added, including more Japanese media coverage of the incident.
Update 2, 2/21/22, 5:30 a.m. ET: Information added on a tweet that Tanukana allegedly made discriminatory remarks against members of the black and LGBTQ communities.