World News

China Slams Bieber for Yasukuni Shrine Visit

Canadian pop music star Justin Bieber has prompted fresh controversy and a condemnation by China, after visiting a Tokyo shrine honoring several World War II Japanese war criminals.

Bieber, who is on vacation in Japan, posted two pictures from the Yasukuni Shrine Wednesday on his Instagram account, where he has nearly 16 million followers. He also posted the images to his Twitter account, where he has 51 million followers.

The photos were deleted after dozens of Instagram users slammed him for being insensitive. They demanded the troubled 20 year-old apologize for insulting the Chinese people.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he hopes the singer "can learn more about the history of Japanese militarism and the wrongful historical and militaristic views promoted by the shrine."

In a later Instagram post, Bieber said he was "extremely sorry" to anyone he offended. The pop star said he was "mislead to believe the shrines were only a place of prayer," adding "I love you China and I love you Japan."

Bieber's visit comes a day after a group of Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also left a ritual offering there, but refrained from visiting, which he did in December.

Japanese officials say they make such visits in a personal, not official, capacity. They stress they are only trying to pay their respects to the country's 2.5 million war dead honored at the shrine.

Such visits are seen by China and South Korea as evidence Tokyo has not sufficiently dealt with its imperialist past. They believe the shrine and an accompanying museum glorify Japan's colonization of Korea and invasion of China.

It appears that Bieber did not know he would spark international headlines by visiting the Shinto shrine.

In one of the photos, Bieber was shown standing in front of the shrine with the caption, "Thank you for your blessings." In another, he stood with his hands clasped next to a man in traditional clothing.

Bieber has recently been in the headlines for reasons other than his music. In January, he was arrested in Miami on charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest, and driving with an expired license.

Last April, Bieber was also criticized after visiting the Amsterdam museum of Holocaust victim Anne Frank, where he wrote in the guestbook, "Hopefully she would have been a Belieber" -- a nickname he uses for his legion of young female fans.

Musically, he is known for his hit songs that include "Baby," "Boyfriend" and "As Long as You Love Me."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs