J-Pop girl group sparks outrage over Nazi-style Halloween costumes

Members of Keyakizaka46, a AKB48 spin-off group, were criticised for their outfits

Members of J-Pop girl group Keyakizaka46 have caused offence in Japan by donning Nazi-style uniforms as Halloween outfits.

The band, a spin-off of the AKB48 J-pop stable, played a Halloween-themed gig in Yokohama on 22 October, with two of its members pictured wearing black military attire similar to that of Hitler’s SS officers.

The images drew widespread criticism online, with one Twitter user writing: “Just because you didn’t know or because you don’t praise Nazis doesn’t mean you can do this kind of thing. It’s unforgivable considering how influential they are as talents”.


Japanese hit-maker Yasushi Akimoto, the man behind the group and a board member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee, has since issued an apology, citing a “lack of oversight” and writing that he was sorry for “failing to oversee matters as the producer”.

The group’s label Sony has released its own statement, which reads: “We express our heartfelt apology for causing offence… because of our lack of understanding. We take the incident seriously and will make efforts to prevent a recurrence of a similar incident in the future.”

The group formed in 2015 and reached number one in Japan earlier this year with the release of their debut single, ‘Silent Majority’.

It isn’t the first time a Japanese act has sparked outrage over use of Nazi imagery. In 2011, both Sony and MTV were forced to apologise after boy band Kishidan were televised wearing similar Nazi-style outfits, causing “shock and dismay”.