A Japanese TV network apologized Monday for making viewers "feel unpleasant" over a comedy program that revived a 30-year-old stereotype character depicting a gay man.
The character called "Homo-oda Homo-o," a name incorporating "homo" -- a derogatory term in Japan for homosexual men -- twice, proved popular in the 1980s in a show featuring the comedy duo act "Tunnels." It made a comeback last month when Fuji Television Network Inc. aired a program marking the 30th anniversary of the show.
The Sept. 28 show sparked public outrage, with LGBT groups saying it was an act of ignoring the human rights of sexual minorities and making fun of them, while a number of people took to social media to protest it.
"We sincerely apologize for making sexual minority people and many other viewers feel unpleasant over the expression we made that could be seen as if we were mocking homosexual men," Fuji TV said on the show's official website, adding it did not have any intention to insult sexual minority people.
In playing the character, Takaaki Ishibashi of Tunnels dressed up with trademark makeup of blue stubble and pink cheeks, and was teased by other performers with such phrases as "You're a homo, right?"
"We deeply regret that our understanding regarding the image the character has long projected, its impact on children, as well as regulatory reforms and changes in social circumstances surrounding LGBT over the years, had been extremely insufficient," Fuji TV said.