Last Friday afternoon, moments after the resignation of Yoshiro Mori as president of the Tokyo Olympics committee, a board member of one of the games’ largest sponsor companies texted me a terse Japanese proverb: “A lid has been placed on the thing that stinks.”

The image of a cosmetic quick-fix was well chosen. The forced departure of 83-year-old Mori, an outrage-packed week after he asserted that women don’t belong on boards, may end the immediate stench. But its source — a mix of ingrained gender inequality, invisible networks that support the incompetent, excessive deference to authority, opaque habits of governance and other stabilisers of the unacceptable — continues to fester, untreated in the pot. It is a smell that hangs around too much of corporate Japan...

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