One of Japan’s biggest television stations has canceled a performance of the massively popular K-pop group BTS amid allegations that one of the band members wore a shirt that appears to show the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
The seven-member boy band was scheduled to appear on TV Asahi’s flagship music program, Music Station, Friday night. The station said in a statement it chose not to feature BTS after speaking with the record company about why BTS band member Jimin had chosen to wear the shirt.
“We deeply apologize the viewers who were looking forward their performance,” the station said.
CNN has reached out to representatives for BTS, Big Hit Entertainment, for comment.
The furor was sparked after images surfaced on social media showing Jimin wearing a shirt emblazoned with the phrase “PATRIOTISM OUR HISTORY LIBERATION KOREA” repeated several times, alongside what appears to be an image of a mushroom cloud over the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It was not clear when the photo of Jimin allegedly wearing the shirt was taken, but local news outlets reported the image was from 2013.
Both South Korea and Japan are particularly sensitive when it comes to the legacy of World War II.
The Korean Peninsula was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945, and was only liberated after the allies defeated Japan at the end of WWII.
Millions of Koreans suffered under Japanese occupation and their treatment continues to impact relations between Tokyo and Seoul.
Japan, meanwhile, became the only nation to have experienced a nuclear attack when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagaski killing an estimated 200,000-plus people at the end of WWII.
Though BTS has for years been one of the biggest bands in South Korea and East Asia, their international profile has skyrocketed in 2018.
This year, the BTS became the first K-pop band to win a Billboard Music Award; the first K-pop act to sell out a US arena; and broke the record for biggest music video debut, a distinction previously held by Taylor Swift.