Cornelius Denies Bullying Incidents That Led To His Removal From Olympics Ceremony

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Cornelius Denies Bullying Incidents That Led To His Removal From Olympics Ceremony

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Japanese experimental musician Keigo Oyamada, better known as Cornelius, resigned from his role as a composer for the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony in July after old interviews, in which he apparently admitted to bullying and abusing schoolmates with disabilities, began recirculating online.

“‚ÄčI sincerely apologize to my classmates and their parents who have been hurt by my words and actions, and I feel deep regret and responsibility for not being a good friend in school life, which is supposed to make good memories, but being in a position to hurt them,” Oyamada said at the time.

But now that the Olympics and Paralympics are over, Cornelius is denying that he ever bullied or abused anyone, claiming that the original interviews — which ran in Rockin’ On Japan and Quick Japan in 1994 and 1995 — misquoted him and got his stories wrong. “I wish to clarify the facts,” Oyamada writes in a new post on Instagram.

“I had talked about bullying that I experienced at school when I was in elementary and junior high school,” Oyamada says. “The headlines of the widely reported Rockin’ On Japan, stated that I had forced my classmates to eat feces and masturbate. I had never forced my classmates to do such acts or ever make any suggestions to do so.”

“In one story, I spoke of on the way home from elementary school where a classmate said jokingly that he could eat dog feces that was on the side of the road and picked it up and put it in his mouth and immediately spat it out,” Oyamada explains. “All the children there laughed, including the classmate who performed the act.”

“The other story is that I forced a classmate to masturbate, which I also did not do,” he continues. “The perpetrator was a senior student who was older and intimidating to us. I mentioned during that interview that I had witnessed outrageous violence, beyond my moral limits, when I was a student and that I had become withdrawn and distanced myself from these people.”

“I spoke of such things during the interview but the magazine that was published had misleading headlines mentioned that I had violated a classmate. Since I could not check the manuscript for Rockin’ On in advance, it was only after the release of the publication that I saw the article,” he adds. “I was shocked with the factual inaccuracies, but at that time I did not have the maturity to realize that I should correct them. In hindsight, I regret that I did not set the record straight directly with Rockin’ On.”

After the publication of the next interview in Quick Japan, which Cornelius says he agreed to in part to correct the misinformation, “a blog post was edited to make it seem as if I were the perpetrator of the gruesome acts of violence and was published. This false information spread through various forums and social media and is now used as a source for most publications, even though the interview with Quick Japan clearly states that the violent acts were not committed by me.”

“I believe that it is my own fault for not taking appropriate actions in explaining or correcting the false information about me that has been circulating over the internet for nearly 20 years,” Oyamada concludes. “As a result, I believe I have caused secondary damage to my classmates, their families and those who had the same experience, and I am truly sorry.” Read his full statement below.

In July 2021, I resigned from the creative team of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics following reports of past statements in a magazine interview that had said I bullied a classmate when I was a student. Now that the Olympics are over, I wish to clarify the facts.

What triggered the report was an interview I did 27 years ago (1994 and 1995) for two magazines, ROCKIN’ ON JAPAN (Jan. 1994 Issue) and QUICK JAPAN (Aug. 1995 Issue) which stated that I had talked about bullying that I experienced at school when I was in elementary and junior high school.

The headlines of the widely reported ROCKIN’ ON JAPAN, stated that I had forced my classmates to eat feces and masturbate. I had never forced my classmates to do such acts or ever make any suggestions to do so.

In the interview, I discussed my experiences growing up and attending school.

In one story, I spoke of on the way home from elementary school where a classmate said jokingly that he could eat dog feces that was on the side of the road and picked it up and put it in his mouth and immediately spat it out. All the children there laughed, including the classmate who performed the act.

The other story is that I forced a classmate to masturbate, which I also did not do. The perpetrator was a senior student who was older and intimidating to us. I mentioned during that interview that I had witnessed outrageous violence, beyond my moral limits, when I was a student and that I had become withdrawn and distanced myself from these people.

I spoke of such things during the interview but the magazine that was published had misleading headlines mentioning that I had violated a classmate. Since I could not check the manuscript for ROCKIN’ ON in advance, it was only after the release of the publication that I saw the article.
I was shocked with the factual inaccuracies, but at that time I did not have the maturity to realize that I should correct them. In hindsight, I regret that I did not set the record straight directly with ROCKIN’ ON.

I had agreed to an interview with QUICK JAPAN (Aug. 1995 Issue) with bullying as the theme, as I had felt that I wanted to correct the misinformation. The publisher’s plan and intention of using bullying as the main subject of the article, to my current understanding, is unethical and lacking consideration for the feelings of the victims and people that were in the same position. However, at the time, I did not think about this and did the interview and explained what I had witnessed as a child.

After the publication of the two magazines, a blog post was edited to make it seem as if I were the perpetrator of the gruesome acts of violence and was published. This false information spread through various forums and social media and is now used as a source for most publications, even though the interview with QUICK JAPAN clearly states that the violent acts were not committed by me.

I am fully aware that my tone of speech for both interviews was vulgar and inappropriate. I would like to sincerely apologize to the people involved for this and for bringing up such horrific events and not taking into consideration, the humiliation, pain and suffering I caused to the bullying victims by exposing their personal trauma to the public.

I believe that it is my own fault for not taking appropriate actions in explaining or correcting the false information about me that has been circulating over the internet for nearly 20 years. As a result, I believe I have caused secondary damage to my classmates, their families and those who had the same experience, and I am truly sorry.

I deeply regret both my actions in the past and the way I talked about them in the articles, which reflected a past attitude that I am not proud of. Over the past two decades I have tried to think with a broader perspective and an awareness of how I should relate and contribute to society, and I will continue to reflect on this more than ever before, as a person and as a musician.

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