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Justin Bieber apologizes for Japan war shrine trip



BY MARI YAMAGUCHI

TOKYO (AP) -- Justin Bieber apologized Wednesday to those he offended by visiting a Japanese war shrine, saying he thought it was a beautiful site and only a place of prayer.

The Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo enshrines 2.5 million war dead, including Japan's 14 convicted war criminals, and operates a war museum that defends Japan's wartime aggression. It is a flashpoint between Japan and its neighbors that see the shrine as distinct from other Shinto-style establishments mainly honoring gods of nature. China and South Korea in particular see Yasukuni as a symbol of Japan's past militarism and consider Japanese officials' visits there as a lack of understanding or remorse over wartime history.

Two images posted on Bieber's Instagram account were met with outrage from Chinese officials and by commenters on social media. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the pop star should remember China's position on Yasukuni.

"I hope this Canadian singer, after his visit, can have some knowledge of the Japanese militaristic history of external aggression and their militaristic thinking," he said.

Yasukuni confirmed Bieber visited earlier this week in what appeared to be a personal trip to Japan. A Yasukuni official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing privacy of a specific visitor, said he strolled in the shrine's precincts, like other ordinary tourists, and most people didn't seem to notice.

The two photos, which were subsequently removed, showed Bieber praying outdoors at the shrine and standing beside a Shinto priest. The Yasukuni official said Bieber did not pray in the shrine's main prayer hall.

In a new Instagram post Wednesday evening, Bieber said he asked his driver to stop when he saw the "beautiful shrine," located in the capital's central district near Budokan hall, where he performed a concert in 2011. It's also near the Imperial Palace and other places tourists visit to see cherry blossoms, though they've mostly finished blooming.

"I was mislead (sic) to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry," the post said.

Bieber, 20, gained stardom with his debut album at age 15 but has had a string of recent legal troubles and criticism for perceived cultural insensitivity. Last year he wrote in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House museum that he hoped the Jewish teenager who died in a Nazi concentration camp "would have been a Belieber" - or a fan of his - if history were different. And he apologized after appearing to drag two Argentine flags off stage with his feet and a microphone stand during a concert there last year.

He's scheduled to go on trial in Miami on May 5 on charges of driving under the influence and resisting arrest. A misdemeanor assault case in Toronto is awaiting trial, and Los Angeles prosecutors are considering whether to bring a felony vandalism case against Bieber over eggs thrown at a neighbor's house in January.

The Yasukuni Shrine holds a spring festival April 21-23, a major event that already has drawn attention this week. Two of Japan's Cabinet ministers and nearly 150 lawmakers prayed at the shrine, triggering outrage from Beijing and Seoul.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited the shrine once during his current term in office, last December, worsening ties with those countries and triggered Washington's concerns. He sent a religious offering to the shrine on Monday, an indication he may not visit during the spring festival.

---

Associated Press news assistant Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.

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jtdancernh April 23 2014 at 9:22 AM

No fan of the Biebs, but even if one were to give him a pass for being totally clueless, what about his handlers? With all the dough they're being paid, shouldn't there be an expectation that THEY have AT A MINIMUM enough of a clue to keep him from inadvertently insulting ENTIRE NATIONS and ending up knee-deep in a pile of horsesh!t evey time he appears in public in a foreign country? WTF?!?

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cbu4776807 April 23 2014 at 9:46 AM

I think that with all the money and resources these celebrities have, they could afford a mentor to travel with them. They have money for partying and security, try putting an educated travel guide to use that might give them the customs of the country or area they are traveling to. There is no excuse for ignorance and it could be avoided so easily. Seems to me that the parents spent so much time and effort getting their "celebrities" to that status, the money and their own self of importance is more vital than making sure, their kids don't look like idiots. Its a shame.

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atragon April 23 2014 at 9:57 AM

Somebody take the boy aside and tell him he's a white kid and stop trying to be gangsta.

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Jim April 23 2014 at 10:29 AM

I guess I've been out of the country or something but will someone please tell me what exactly is it that this kid does to rate so much attention? I've heard he's from Canada and I take it he sings or something but so do a lot of other people. What's his gig? He's a skinny little twerp and he has no ass at all.

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1 reply
timeclockpolicy Jim April 23 2014 at 10:34 AM

Once again, what's the first thing a republiscum looks at? Yup, another guy's ass. They never cease to amaze.

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mnovosel56 April 23 2014 at 11:20 AM

I was just wondering if this little stooge had any proper upbringing he seems to think the world is his toilet and he can crap on anyone or anything anytime he feels like it why don't we ship this menace back to Canada where he belongs.

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1 reply
Kevin mnovosel56 April 23 2014 at 11:31 AM

Ah, Canada. Where they use punctuation.

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tlr0104555 April 23 2014 at 11:25 AM

gas him............

Flag Reply +2 rate up
pupmobile April 23 2014 at 11:26 AM

He is history but the nasty little twerp still doesn't get it. He should get over himself, everyone else has.

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Jennifer Long April 23 2014 at 11:26 AM

What is with those dirty fingernails?

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1 reply
rodshiley71 Jennifer Long April 23 2014 at 11:35 AM

Nose picker.

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Paul DePace April 23 2014 at 11:27 AM

Bieber is a joke; just like so many of his look-alike, act-alike celebrity contemporaries.

If God's Word is really 'a lamp unto his feet', why not start basing his actions on what he is seeing in the light, rather than turning his back on that, and making his life just another example of someone who says one thing, and then does another.

Can you really imagine? A guy gets a tatoo on his arm, actually violates, marks-up, his body to put a phrase on it. And then he renders that commitment a joke with his daily walk? Wow. Anyone who says this world is not sprialing downward is just closing his or her eyes to reality. And guys like Bieber ("Oh! I LOVE Justin Bieber!!!!... sic) is at the front of the fall.

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joeknowswoodies April 23 2014 at 11:27 AM

Leave it to Bieber....

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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