When a school in Japan needed an English teacher recently, it had a very specific image of the ideal applicant. The advert for the job at the ER English school in the Yamanashi region said: "Wanted immedietly (sic) native speaker. Blonde hair, blue or green eyes and brightly character."
The advert was seen by bloggers in Japan, one of whom pointed out politely that not all English speakers fitted those characteristics. A manager at the school defended the advert, saying the principal had simply wanted to acclimatise pupils to English people - and to him that meant someone with blond hair and blue or green eyes.
Encouragingly, the ad has been treated as comical by news programmes in Japan. A writer for the Japan Probe website said he was glad to see his girlfriend's family laughing at the story. "The reaction by native Japanese made me hopeful for the future," he said.
The school (motto: "Be All That You Can Be") has agreed to change the ad after being contacted by the local human rights bureau. So where did the school get the idea that all English people are blond? A certain footballer with cult-like status in Japan may be to blame.