The University of Tokyo has fired an associate professor and researcher of artificial intelligence (AI) for several anti-Chinese comments he posted on Twitter in November and December last year.
Shohei Ohsawa, 32, described himself on his Twitter bio profile as the university’s “youngest associate professor”. He was appointed to the post at the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (IIIS) last April.
Ohsawa runs an AI and blockchain technology firm called Daisy Co. He tweeted that his company would not hire Chinese workers he described as useless at private commercial companies because their performance was poor.
“I will not bother to hold an interview if (I learn the applicant is) Chinese. I will eliminate the applicant in document screening,” Ohsawa tweeted, according to a report in the Japan Times.
He added that “workers with low performance levels deserve to be discriminated against in the context of capitalism”.
Ohsawa’s tweets were criticised by netizens and even students at the university, who said that his opinions constituted “hate speech”.
In response, Ohsawa tweeted that he was being attacked by “lower-class citizens who do not understand Japanese”.
The university stated that the tweets “grossly damaged” its honour and reputation. Ohsawa’s profile has been removed from its faculty member page.
“We guarantee that (IIIS) is open to people of all nationalities, and does not tolerate any form of discrimination or intolerance. I am very sorry that an (IIIS) faculty member made these writings, and I would like to sincerely apologise to all those who have been made to feel uncomfortable as a consequence,” IIIS chief Noboru Koshizuka said in a statement.
The IIIS said that, following the incident, it would be implementing measures to encourage dialogue among the faculty and students as well as establish a code of ethics.
Ohsawa said his dismissal was “unfair” and that the university was “making light” of Japan’s AI developments while “valuing the diversity of various Asian countries”.
He has since apologised and deleted the controversial tweets. /TISG
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