Justin Bieber apologises after posing near controversial Japanese war shrine

Pop singer causes offence after taking picture next to Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo

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Justin Bieber has apologised after posting pictures on Instagram of himself next to a war shrine in Tokyo.

The picture, which has now been removed, showed Bieber next to the Yasukuni war shrine, which is regarded by China and South Korea as a monument celebrating the Japanese leaders executed for war crimes during World War II.

The picture was shared among millions of Bieber's fans, many of whom left comments explaining why the image was offensive.

The Yasukuni shrine is viewed by many in Asia as a symbol of Japan failing to atone for atrocities in the 1930s and ’40s. Posting his apology, Bieber said he had been unaware of the shrine's controversial role, and issued an apology.

"While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine," he wrote on Instagram. "I was misled 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."

The Guardian quotes Qin Gang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, as saying that he hopes Bieber's run-in with the public's feelings over Yasukuni will have left him with "a clear understanding of Japan's history of invasion and militarism, and of the source of Japan's militarism".

Earlier this week The White House refused to comment on a petition to have Bieber deported from the US. Nearly 275,000 people signed the online petition to have the Canadian singer kicked out of their country and have his green card revoked. The US Government are expected to respond to petitions over 100,000 signatures.

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