By The Nation
The sister band of Japan’s AKB48 issued an apology yesterday to match the tearful one delivered earlier by 20-year-old singer Pichayapa “Namsai” Natha. It was a bad fashion choice based on ignorance, she said.
“I am saddened and feel seriously guilty,” she said, overcome with emotion and collapsing to the stage. “Please forgive me.”
Namsai wore the shirt – featuring a Nazi battle flag with a swastika at the centre – during a rehearsal for a BNK48 concert on Friday.
The timing alone was terrible, coming just two days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday, meant to honour the victims of Germany’s World War II attempt to exterminate Europe’s Jews.
Smadar Shapira, deputy chief of mission of Israel in Thailand, said on Twitter on Saturday that the Israeli Embassy was shocked and dismayed over the singer’s outfit, noting that the Holocaust remembrance was imminent.
She wrote that, on January 27, “the world will commemorate six million Jews who perished. Presenting Nazi symbols by the band’s singer hurt the feelings of millions around the world whose relatives were murdered by the Nazis.”
Her words were echoed by the embassy itself on Facebook.
German Ambassador Georg Schmidt, whose country has gone to great lengths to amend for the crimes of its wartime regime, also tweeted.
“We share the shock and dismay expressed by @ShapiraSmadar from the Embassy of Israel. We invite members of #BNK48 to discuss the terror to the Nazi dictatorship with us.”
BNK48 management issued a written apology in response. “We would like to offer our sincere apologies for the incident on January 25 when one of the members featured a costume which included an inappropriate print,” its said.
“We inadvertently caused dismay and distress to people affected by the … crime against humanity all over the world. In the future, we will take better precautions and make every effort to ensure that an incident of this kind never happens again.”
The manager of BNK48 also brought “Namsai” for a meeting with the ambassador of Israel, Meir Shlomo, at the latter’s residence yesterday to express their apologies in person.
“I understand that it was an act arising from lack of knowledge and awareness, and I’m pleased that they have apologised and agreed to hold together educational activity in the future,” the ambassador said following the meeting. The BNK48 has proposed that its members join an educational workshop on the Holocaust, in order to emphasise their commitment to this important subject.