Yasukuni, a Shinto shrine honoring Japan's war dead, including several hundred individuals convicted of war crimes during World War II, is a perennial flashpoint in relations between Japan and its neighbors. Just this week, a visit to the shrine by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, followed by a visit by 150 ministers, provoked angry responses from China and South Korea and—on the eve of President Obama’s visit to the country—irritation from Washington.
Then … Justin Bieber got involved.
The singer was apparently passing the shrine and asked his driver to pull over, posting photos on his Instagram with the caption “thank you for your blessings.” This, not surprisingly, caused outrage among Bieber’s many fans on the Chinese social networking site Weibo and even drew comment from Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang, who puzzled at the motives of the “so-called Canadian famous singer.”
Bieber deleted the offending images and posted an apology on his account saying he had been “mislead [sic] to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer.”
Unlike some of his other recent transgressions, it seems quite possible that this was just a misunderstanding. But he might want to brush up on some of the more sensitive points of East Asian history next time he’s in the area.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best
Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke
A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.