A Japanese broadcaster has axed a live appearance from a hugely popular South Korean boyband after a pictured emerged of one of its members wearing a T-shirt showing an atomic bombing.
The long-sleeved shirt, worn by BTS member Jimin, also reads “patriotism” and “Korea” while depicting a celebration of the country’s liberation from Japan in 1945.
The top features an image of an atomic bomb explosion, which social media users have suggested shows either the bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in the Second World War.
Jimin reportedly wore the shirt in August 2017 when Koreans celebrate the end of Japanese occupation.
The top is made by the South Korea-based clothing brand Our History, and is listed as sold out on the company’s website.
BTS, a seven-member K-pop band, are known for their boyish looks and meticulously choreographed dance moves.
They are one of South Korea’s best-known musical exports, becoming the first K-pop performers to top the US Billboard 200 with “Love Yourself: Tear.”
BTS were due to perform on the live show Music Station on TV Asahi on Friday before the photo of Jimin went viral.
TV Asahi said in a statement: “BTS’ appearance scheduled for the 9th has been cancelled.
“The T-shirt that one of the members wore made headlines and became controversial.”
BTS’ recording company Universal Music said it will continue to support the band, but confirmed their appearance on Music Station had been cancelled.
The term K-pop refers to domestic popular music in South Korea, which can be influenced by any number of different styles and genres.
K-pop artists are extremely popular in Japan, despite the hostility that can mark other aspects of the two nation’s ties.
The two countries have strained relations due to Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula in the early 20th century until the end of the Second World War.
Tokyo reacted furiously in October after South Korea’s top court ordered a Japanese steel giant to compensate victims of wartime forced labour programmes.
Despite the controversy over the top, some Japanese fans expressed disappointment that the BTS performance had been cancelled.
BTS has said in a statement over the the row: “We apologise for disappointing fans who were looking forward to this.
“BTS will continue their efforts to connect with fans on stage and also through music.”
Japan became the first nation to suffer an atomic bombing on 6 August 1945, at Hiroshima. This was followed by another bomb being dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August.
Japan surrendered six days later.