During a trip to Japan, the 20-year-old Canadian singer appears to have visited perhaps the most controversial site in all of Asia, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo that honors, among others, World War II war criminals.
When the Bieb posted photos of himself standing in from of the shrine on Instagram, the responses came quickly from users of the social media site in China and South Korea. “Say sorry to Chinese,” was among the printable replies.
According to That’s Magazine, one user, whose screen name is “justinwanbieber,” wrote: “The Yasukuni shrine is dedicated to kill countless Chinese prisoners. Japanese planned Nanjing massacre killed tens of thousands of people China Please face up to history . As a Chinese Belieber . i am so sad that you visit the YasKuniShrine .”
(Warning: there are other responses in That’s Magazine that some readers of The Two-Way might find offensive.)
The Washington Post says Bieber “doesn’t appear to know what the Yasukuni Shrine is — he says simply ‘thank you for your blessings’ with the first picture.”
The snapshots were quickly removed and in a subsequent post, Bieber writes: “While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine. I was mislead [sic] to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan”
For China and other Japanese neighbors who suffered considerably at the hands of Japanese forces during World War II, few things are more offensive than Yasukuni.
And 70 years has done little to salve the war wounds: A visit by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the shrine in December prompted Beijing’s Foreign Ministry to respond by calling the move “a gross violation of the feelings of Chinese people and people from other Asian countries.”
“His posts were particularly poorly timed, because they came just days after 150 Japanese politicians visited the shrines for its annual spring festival.
“Chinese officials have previously compared such visits to German politicians laying flowers on Hitler’s bunker.”