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A Japanese Noodle Company Has Apologised For 'Whitewashing' Naomi Osaka

One of the worlds largest instant-noodle company has canned its new advertising campaign after it was ripped to shreds on social media

The headlines should have highlighted the success of Australian Open semi-finalist Naomi Osaka, but instead, for the second time in four months, the Japanese tennis star has become embroiled in a racism controversy.

Noodle company --  and Osaka's sponsor -- Nissin has been accused of 'whitewashing' the Haitian-Japanese star after a cartoon advertisement turned the national hero into a pale skinned, light haired, Caucasian player.

Japan's top male player, Kei Nishikori, was also drawn with similarly light features by manga artist Takeshi Konomi.

Neither player has commented on the now-pulled ad, but it's had a very soggy reception on social media.

After getting into hot water, Nissin spokesman Daisuke Okabayashi apologised in an email to the New York Times on Tuesday for “the confusion and discomfort.”

“There is no intention of whitewashing,” he said. “We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issue in the future."

It's not the first time Naomi Osaka has been caught up in a cartoon-skin-lightening-incident.

In September last year, the 21-year-old became the first Japanese-born tennis player to win a Grand Slam when she beat Serena Williams in the US Open.

The Herald Sun published the now-infamous cartoon of Williams chucking a tanty on court, which also depicts Osaka with white skin and blonde hair.

READ MORE: Why Does Australia Have A Racist Cartoon Problem?

READ MORE: Serena Williams' Husband Breaks Silence On Racist Cartoon