Japan swimsuit teen's eel ad pulled over sexism claims

Officials in far-south Shibushi, Japan pulled their advert but insisted they had only wanted to draw attention to locally-farmed eels (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno) (AFP/File)

Tokyo (AFP) - An online ad featuring a swimsuit-clad teenage girl who turns into an eel was pulled Monday after Japanese internet users complained it was sexist.

Officials in far-south Shibushi yanked the commercial but insisted they had only wanted to draw attention to locally-farmed fish.

The bizarre two-minute spot began with a girl wearing a black one-piece lounging in a pool and asking a man to "feed me".

She is then seen lazing poolside and hula-hooping, before the film cuts to bucolic images of southern Japan.

It then returns to the girl, who jumps back into the pool and changes into an eel.

"We're farming (eels) with care," reads a subtitle that ends the video.

Viewers were unimpressed.

"This makes me think of a girl who is being kidnapped and locked up...it's the delusions of a pervert," said one Twitter user.

Another added: "They should take down this sexist video."

Stung by criticism, city officials pulled the ad, with a local official telling AFP: "we're aware that some people were offended".

"We just wanted to make a video that simply explains the city is known for eel farming."

This is not the first time a Japanese city has found itself in hot water over advertising deemed demeaning to women.

The city of Shima, which hosted G7 talks earlier this year, changed its new female community mascot after it was blasted as obscene and sexist.

The cartoon image of a voluptuous 17-year-old aspiring "ama" diver in search of a boyfriend drew fire from real female divers, who traditionally harvest seaweed, clams and, in some areas, pearls.