Popular Chinese actor faces boycott for visiting Yasukuni Shrine in Japan
The shrine in Tokyo is seen in countries including China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism and right-wing politics.
The China Association of Performing Arts (CAPA) on Sunday called for the boycott of a popular Chinese actor after photos surfaced online showing him visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Japan in 2018.
The shrine in Tokyo is seen in neighbouring countries including China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism and right-wing politics.
The shrine honours Japan’s war dead among them 14 World War II leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as war criminals.
The Chinese actor Zhang Zhehan’s - a heartthrob among young Chinese known for acting in movies and period dramas - visit to the shrine sparked outrage among the public after photos were circulated online of him posing there.
CAPA was quoted as saying in a notice published on Sunday that actors should understand history. “Ignorance should not be an excuse…Yasukuni Shrine is the spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese militarism in launching its war of aggression and a place where right-wing Japanese forces deny history and beautify the war,” the Global Times said, quoting CAPA.
“As a public figure, he has been deficient in historical knowledge, and completely unaware of the nation’s trauma, which is totally unreasonable,” the state-run People’s Daily said.
“The misbehaviour of actor Zhang Zhehan severely harms national feeling and brings baneful influence to his young age-group audience. Hence, we demand members not to engage him in any employment,” said the association.
An apology from the 30-year-old where he said he was ashamed of his ignorance hasn’t worked.
According to Reuters, more than 25 companies in China, beverage maker Coca-Cola Co and Danish jeweller Pandora have announced the termination of partnerships with Zhang.
Separately, China and South Korea have blasted Japanese defence minister Nobuo Kishi’s visit to the shrine last week.
China expressed its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the visit, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson, Wu Qian said.
The shrine is “a spiritual tool and symbol of Japanese militarism and its invasion of foreign countries”, the statement said.
Kishi’s act reflects “Japan’s wrong attitude towards its history of aggression and its sinister intention to challenge the postwar international order”, the statement added.
In Seoul, Lee Sang-ryol, the South Korean foreign ministry’s director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs, summoned Naoki Kumagai, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese embassy to lodge a protest against the visit.