Justin Bieber apologizes after Japan shrine visit sparks Asian anger

Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:33am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber, whose tumultuous life has landed him in trouble more than once, on Wednesday apologized for a visit to a Tokyo shrine at the center of a bitter international row over Japan's wartime aggression.

Bieber, 20, posted a picture on social media of himself visiting Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine with the heading, "Thank you for your blessings".

The picture was later deleted, although it was republished elsewhere on the Internet, including by a Bieber fan group, and drew criticism from South Korea and China.

The shrine honors 14 Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals after World War Two along with Japan's war dead, and visits to the shrine by Japanese politicians anger victims of Japan's past aggression, including South Korea and China.

Chinese officials have compared Japanese politicians' visits to the shrine to the idea of German politicians laying flowers on Hitler's bunker.

The subject of Yasukuni is especially touchy this week, when about 150 lawmakers visited and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a ritual offering to mark the shrine's annual spring festival.

Bieber later said he had visited Yasukuni by mistake after spotting a beautiful shrine and asking his driver to stop, believing it was "only a place of prayer".

"To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry," he wrote on his Instagram site. "I love you China and I love you Japan."   Continued...

Singer Justin Bieber poses at the premiere of the documentary "Justin Bieber's Believe" in Los Angeles, California December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni