A Japanese television network abruptly cancelled the appearance of the mega-hit K-Pop band BTS over a controversial T-shirt worn by one of its members, which was seen by some to celebrate the use of atomic weapons against Japan during the second world war.
'We apologise for disappointing fans who were looking forward to this.
The vague wording of Music Station's statement that "as a program, wanted to ask him his mentality in wearing it" leaves it unclear as to whether producers merely wanted a behind-closed-doors discussion before agreeing to have BTS on the show, or whether they were demanding to be allowed to ask Jimin, live on air, about his wardrobe choice.
Lee Kwang Jae, the designer of the shirt, issued a statement after learning BTS had canceled their trip to Japan.
The t-shirt had an image of an atomic bomb explosion with the words, "patriotism our history liberation Korea" written repeatedly on it.
I can never accept the act that #BTS member wore the atomic bomb T-shirts humanely.
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"I'm from Hiroshima. I can not accept BTS appearing on Music Station", said one Twitter user. Numerous Koreans who lived in Japan also passed away" and "Members work while crossing boundaries and language barriers, which is kind of their job.
Defenders of BTS and Jimin claimed that the shirt wasn't disrespectful to the Japanese people, and was simply a celebration of the defeat of the Japanese empire and the resulting independence of Korea. When images of Jimin in the shirt went viral earlier this month, #Unforgiveable and #AtomicBomb began to trend on social media.
Japan, meanwhile, became the only nation to have experienced a nuclear attack when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagaski killing an estimated 200,000-plus people at the end of WWII.
BTS confirmed they would not appear on Music Station but did not address why.
Tokyo reacted furiously in October after South Korea's top court ordered a Japanese steel giant to compensate victims of wartime forced labour programmes.