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An appearance by K-pop sensation BTS on Japanese network TV Asahi has been cancelled after a member wore a T-shirt that seemed to celebrate the atomic bombing of Japan during WWII.
The group, which has built a massive following worldwide, including in Japan, were due to appear on the popular Music Station show on Friday night. However, after member Jimin was photographed in a T-shirt commemorating the liberation of Korea from Japan in 1945, with an image on the back of what appeared to be a mushroom cloud exploding over Hiroshima, their appearance was pulled.
BTS issued a statement apologizing to Japanese fans for the cancellation of their appearance, without giving any reason for the incident. The band’s management was contacted by TV Asahi about the T-shirt.
The group is due to start their Japan tour next week, with nine shows at major arenas — including two at the 50,000-seat Tokyo Dome, where Paul McCartney played sold-out shows last week.
BTS has played sold-out shows in the U.S. and topped the Billboard charts, as well as making a speech at the United Nations in September in support of UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited education campaign. The band previously supported a UNICEF campaign against youth violence.
In 2012, TV actor Song Il-gook and K-pop singer Kim Jang-hoon took part in a relay swim to the Dokdo/Takeshima islands, which are controlled by South Korea but are claimed by Japan. The incident stoked tensions between the two neighbors.
After a period of relatively good relations, a recent decision by a Korean court that Japanese companies are liable for wartime forced labor compensation claims has made ties deteriorate again.
Japan has been a huge market for Korean music and TV dramas in recent decades.
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