048 Withdrawal Notice

Dear esteemed members of the Tokyo Art Directors Club:

With regard to the controversy concerning the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Logos, the Tokyo Art Directors Club (Tokyo ADC), as a group, never spoke up and has maintained its silence throughout. By choosing to be silent and by taking no action, Tokyo ADC gave its tacit approval to the bashing of its very own members―Kenjiro Sano and other Hakuhodo alumni, and the club stood by as the media hoopla unfolded.

Though Tokyo ADC may try to justify its inaction by claiming its standing as an organization, a “club”. However, when we consider the fact that the majority of the major players and others who were involved in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo controversy (including the judges on the panel, the winners themselves, guest artists, competition entrants, ad agency personnel on assignment from the Tokyo Games Organizing Committee) were members belonging to Tokyo ADC, I believe, inaction was not an option. It was nothing but an abdication of responsibility.

The logo controversy was never an issue that involved Mr. Sano alone. Yet his image was singled out, leaving a vivid and lasting impression on our minds. If Tokyo ADC had used its organizational strength to take some kind of action, the outcome could have been quite different. It could have prevented a situation where one person received overt criticism and attention. I cannot help but think we could have done more to protect his human rights.

When specialists and experts decided to keep silent, those who are not specialists in the field were bewildered; students who are hoping to become designers, must have felt lost and disillusioned, not knowing what to believe in. The thought weighed heavily on my conscience as I continued writing, adding posts to my blog. I did not want to involve other parties considering the strange and bizarre circumstances that were taking place at that time. So I continued to speak out, on my own. Now, looking back, I can see that making statements, a personal freedom of expression, had its limits.

Ever since its founding in 1952, Tokyo ADC has made use of the public competition platform to invite works of art. Members of Tokyo ADC have graded and judged the works of their cohorts, based on their discerning insight and evaluation criteria. The group has been serving as the leader, exerting its influence throughout the fields of advertising and graphic design. But not any more: I think many people now feel that Tokyo ADC was never a true leader.

There are the silent ones who say “too little, too late” and resort to “abusive language” out of defensiveness and for self-protection. I refuse to succumb. In order to break away from this heavy, silencing atmosphere that prohibits one from stating the obvious―what is wrong is wrong; in order to build a true and integral relationship based on trust; in order to make clear where I stand; I hereby withdraw from Tokyo ADC.
Please withdraw my name from the membership roll.

Keiko Hirano
November 16, 2017

I submitted this letter of withdrawal at the Tokyo ADC committee meeting which is held once a year. It was duly accepted and I withdrew from the Tokyo Art Directors Club as of November 16 (Thursday).

Keiko Hirano

Keiko Hirano:
Designer/Visioner, Executive Director of Communication Design Laboratory
Hirano served on the panel that chose the official emblem for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was ultimately withdrawn.

Personal note:
I contributed an op-ed piece to the November issue of the “Kenchiku Journal” magazine (on sale November 1, 2016). The special feature of the issue is “Ridiculing the Olympic Games”.