Amid protests from Japan, Ukraine has removed an image of former Japanese leader Emperor Hirohito from a video it posted online showing him next to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
The video, uploaded to Twitter by the Ukrainian government on April 1, showed the three World War II Axis leaders above a caption that read, “Fascism and Nazism were defeated in 1945.” This sparked severe backlash from Japan, including comments from Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki, who said, “Portraying Hitler, Mussolini and Emperor Showa [Hirohito] in the same context is completely inappropriate.” He called the depiction “extremely regrettable.”
Our sincere apologies for making a mistake in the previous version of the video. We had no intention to offend the friendly people of Japan 🇺🇦🇯🇵. In the new video above we have corrected the mistake. https://t.co/rB3RkR6V4k
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) April 24, 2022
Some Japanese netizens on social media called for their government to stop supporting Ukraine, while others commented that Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who was convicted in 1948 of presiding over war crimes during World War II, would have been a more appropriate choice for the video.
Japan fought World War II in the name of Hirohito, who was revered as a god until he renounced his divine status after the war. Historical analysis of his role in the war remains controversial. His son, Emperor Akihito, committed his reign to atoning for the impacts of the war, both in and outside Japan.
The Ukrainian government, following Japan’s protests of the image, removed the picture of Hirohito from the video and expressed their regret to Japan.
“Our sincere apologies to Japan for making this mistake,” the Ukrainian government said in a tweet on Sunday. “We had no intention to offend the friendly people of Japan.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, also apologized on Monday, tweeting that the creator of the video lacked an understanding of history.
He added that the emperor of Japan had “nothing” to do with the “outbreak of war” and “fascist ideology.”
На цьому кадрі використана фотографія імператора Японії, який не мав відношення до розв’язування війни і фашистської ідеології.Японці дуже ображені, оскільки це не справедливо і не відповідає історичним фактам. Наполегливо просимо виправити.🇯🇵є одним з найбільших наших союзників. pic.twitter.com/7F1sMN4aD1
— セルギー・コルスンスキー駐日ウクライナ特命全権大使 (@KorsunskySergiy) April 24, 2022
Japan has taken a leading role in supporting Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia, donating $300 million as well as accepting hundreds of displaced Ukrainians since the Russian invasion began in late February.
The conflict is concerning to Japan, as it fears potential consequences in East Asia, where China’s military has grown increasingly assertive, with threats to claim the territory of Taiwan by force if necessary.
Japan has pursued a larger role in the Group of 7 industrialized nations, responding to the Russian invasion through sanctions and other forms of support for Ukraine.
Featured Image via @ukraine/Twitter