Although the singer said he didn't mean to offend his Chinese fans, he forgot to acknowledge South Korea – for whom visiting the Tokyo site is also considered an affront.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, several major South Korean news outlets ran the headline, "Bieber Forgets Korea in Apology for Yasukuni Shrine Visit". And the Wall Street Journal has compiled a handful of angry Korean Twitter users, including one who tweeted that Bieber "has lost all his Korean fans".
Bieber stopped at Yasukuni earlier this week, posing for photographs that were posted on his Instagram account. "Thank you for your blessings," he wrote as a caption. Soon after, following a flurry of angry comments, the singer's team removed the images.
The 20-year-old tried to explain himself on Wednesday. "While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine," he wrote. "I was mislead 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."
Erected in 1869, Yasukuni has become one of Japan's most provocative symbols. A shrine to the country's war dead, it also honours hundreds of convicted war criminals who participated in atrocities against Chinese and Korean civilians. Japanese politicians have frequently made pilgrimages to the site, in gestures to past militarism; Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering just a few days ago.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry stated that his country's position on Yasukuni is "clear-cut". "I don’t know the political opinion of the so-called 'Canadian famous singer'," said Qin Gang, "[but] I hope this Canadian singer, after visiting the Yasukuni shrine, can have a clear understanding of Japan’s history of invasion and its history of militarism."
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