TOKYO – A former internet tycoon who wore a Hitler T-shirt on a talkshow sparked anger in Japan, with the broadcaster forced to apologise.
Maverick businessman Takafumi Horie is the founder of popular Internet service provider Livedoor, who spent nearly two years in jail for accounting fraud before his release in 2013.
Appearing as a guest on the “Gogo Nama” talkshow Wednesday, the flamboyant dotcom entrepreneur donned a black T-shirt with a caricature of Adolf Hitler on it and a peace symbol next to the words “NO WAR”.
Despite what public broadcaster NHK called the shirt’s “anti-war writing”, the Hitler imagery drew a barrage of criticism with a number of viewers contacting the programme as others took to social media.
“The T-shirt is not appropriate because it evokes Hitler,” one viewer said according to an NHK spokesman, while another commented: “Even though it says ‘no war’ I don’t understand why he wears it”.
An NHK announcer apologised to “those who felt uncomfortable” at the end of the programme.
Horie, who wrote a book titled “My Struggle” – evoking Hitler’s infamous “Mein Kampf” – fired off a tweet defending the top while dubbing critics “weak minded”.
“I’ve worn the T-shirt with Hitler screaming NO WAR with a peace mark a number of times but it caught fire for the first time,” he wrote, adding a Japanese character for laughter.
“In my view, you can’t escape seeing it as a T-shirt with a message praying for peace.” He added: “There are so many people who don’t understand humour.”
Periodic actions and comments in Japan deemed anti-Semitic have sparked controversy and international criticism, though they tend to be blamed on ignorance rather than malicious intent.
Just last month, Japan’s central bank reportedly apologised over an official’s praise for Hitler’s economic policies.