“We would like to apologize for using sensational language to appeal to readers about how they can become intimate with women and for publishing a ranking, with real university names, that resulted in a feature that may have made our readers uncomfortable,” the tabloid’s editorial department said in a statement obtained by CNN.
“I would like to fight so that especially on public articles such as this one, sexualizing, objectifying and disrespecting women would stop,” wrote Kazuna Yamamoto, the petition’s creator.
“2018 was a year where women from all over the world fought for women’s rights, so that our voices were delivered. Let’s raise our voices because I am sick of this society where women are objects,” Yamamoto added.
Her petition had garnered over 38,000 signatures by Wednesday.
#MeToo in Japan
The scandal comes amid a growing international conversation about sexual abuse against women. Though Japan remains a traditionally male-dominated society, campaigns such as #MeToo have helped to spotlight gender equality and sexual abuse.
Japan is ranked at 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) latest global gender gap index measuring the degree of gender equality.
The country also ranks bottom among the G7 countries for gender equality, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to empower working women through a policy called “womenomics.”