Japanese broadcasters criticised for cancelling BTS appearances

SEOUL • South Korean boyband BTS may have won several awards at Sunday's E! People's Choice Awards, but they are not winning the favour of some Japanese broadcasters.

First, it was Japanese broadcaster Asahi which cancelled BTS' scheduled appearance on its show Music Station, citing a T-shirt worn by a member of the South Korean boyband as the reason.

The T-shirt featured images and phrases linked to South Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, including a photo of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Now, Japanese television stations Fuji TV and NHK have also said they would either withdraw or reconsider BTS' appearance on their music shows, triggering debate online and in the media, reported The Korea Herald.

South Korea's ruling and major opposition parties have weighed in on the T-shirt debate.

Mr Hong Ihk-pyo, a spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party, said "it would be inappropriate for Japanese broadcasters to rescind BTS' appearance on the grounds of politics".

He objected to the "politicisation of non-political exchanges".

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party expressed a "deep regret towards Japan's intolerant cultural relativism and insular historical awareness".

The party's chief spokesman Yoon Young-seok pointed out that Japanese viewers, notably those leaning far-right, have a history of punishing Japanese networks for airing Korean pop culture, citing backlash against Fuji TV in 2010-2011.

He added that censoring broadcast materials is an act that "warrants international criticism".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2018, with the headline 'Japanese broadcasters criticised for cancelling BTS appearances'. Print Edition | Subscribe