After a social media movie praising the defeat of fascism featured a photo of Japan’s wartime Emperor Hirohito alongside Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, an official Ukrainian government Twitter account apologised.
On the Ukrainian Twitter account, a statement stated, “Our heartfelt apologies to Japan for making this error.” “We had no intention of offending Japan’s kind people.” The post was updated with an altered version of the video that removed Hirohito’s image.
The tweet went viral over the weekend, prompting Japan to issue an official statement. It also risked alienating some conservatives from the Ukrainian cause in a country that has backed President Volodymyr Zelenskiy since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Japan has joined the United States and other major democracies in imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration, breaking with its pacifist heritage by deploying non-lethal military equipment to Ukraine. It has also taken the uncommon step of welcoming a small group of migrants escaping the conflict.
Masahisa Sato, the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s foreign policy committee, said on Twitter on Sunday that he had requested the Foreign Ministry to lodge a protest with the Ukrainian government. Later, he noted that the ministry appeared to have done so and that the “problematic” video had been taken down.
While some Twitter users felt the image had made them lose interest in helping Ukraine, others suggested it would have been more suitable to use a photo of Hideki Tojo, Japan’s prime minister for the most of WWII and eventually hung as a convicted war criminal.
The Japanese people have endorsed a harsh stance towards the Kremlin in response to the invasion. According to a study conducted by the Nikkei newspaper on April 22-24, 42 percent of respondents believe Japan’s sanctions on Russia should be tougher, while 44 percent believe the present penalties are adequate. More over 62 percent of respondents believed the government’s overall handling of the conflict was satisfactory.
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