The biggest shareholder of Japan Tobacco is the Japanese state still holding one third of the company shares. The tobacco company itself owns two top teams of the Japanese volleyball league. Thanks to the advertising on the jerseys of JT Marvelous, the women’s team, and JT Thunders, the men’s team, the logo of Japan Tobacco is shown on numerous press pictures and fan posters. In its annual reports, the cigarette company announces that both teams provide volleyball trainings for pupils and housewives. Late 2011, there was an uproar during the Volleyball World Cup traditionally held in Japan. The character „JT“ didn’t only appear on background advertising, but also on the jerseys of the Japanese national women’s team. Furthermore, the company’s staff distributed small presents in front of the stadiums. The event organisers responded to criticism on these advertising activities, that Japan Tobacco didn’t sponsor the sport event as a cigarette manufacturer, but as a beverage producer.
Tobacco sponsorship of sports could doom Japan’s Olympic bid (2011)