There are two important foreign dignitaries in Japan right now.
One is the President of the United States of America and the other is, well, Justin Bieber.
The former is the reason why there are currently police officers inside every station, standing on boxes and trying to look important. (I think they are ostensibly there to prevent a terrorist attack.)
But perhaps they should be keeping an eye on Mr Bieber instead.
After all, Justin Bieber has a habit of alienating various nationalities and ethnic groups through his antics, from signing “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber” in a guestbook at the Anne Frank Museum, to apparently not knowing where Germany was in a live interview, and calling Indonesia “some random country”.
Now young Justin has lost himself a generation of fans in China, Taiwan and Korea by visiting the most controversial place in Japan, Yasukuni Shrine.
Note the surprisingly large number of “likes”.
The shrine houses millions of Japanese war dead. Unfortunately these also happen to include over 1,000 war criminals. Although Japan has at least one neutral and official war memorial in Tokyo, Yasukuni has become the place of choice for the ultra right and conservative politicians to pay their respects.
Given that State Shinto played an intricate role in the post-Meiji militarization of Japan and that Yasukuni also houses a revisionist museum, it is no wonder the visits of prime ministers and leading Japanese politicos never fail to infuriate Japan’s Asian neighbors who suffered so miserably at the hands of Japanese imperialism. (As happened only days ago when a throng of lawmakers went to Yasukuni.)
And into this maelstrom wanders our innocent Canadian singer.
“Thank you for your blessings” he writes under his Instagram picture (since deleted), a record of his visit to the shrine this morning.
Oh dear. Sure, Justin can’t be expected to know the finer details of Japanese politics, Shinto and all that jazz. But does he not have a publicity advisor or two to help him out?!
*Update*: Mr Bieber has posted an apology and explanation for his visit to Yasukuni.