South Korean politicians slam Japanese TV station's axing of BTS appearance

K-pop band BTS speaking during a meeting focused on youth issues at the United Nations in New York, on Sept 24, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - 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 that 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, commented that "it would be inappropriate for Japanese broadcasters to rescind BTS' appearance on the grounds of politics" and 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".

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