Chinese web users are joyfully poking fun at a nationalistic promotional campaign in Japan which made a small casting mistake.
Posters spotted around Kyoto star a young woman smiling in front of the Japanese flag, alongside the words: “I’m glad to be Japanese. Raise the Hinomaru with pride in your heart” — using the Japanese word for flag.
Which the woman pictured is likely unfamiliar with. It turns out that the girl’s image was taken from a Getty Images photo that was produced in Beijing and tagged “Chinese ethnicity.” The company which originally produced the photo has since confirmed to the BBC that the image was taken in 2009, and that the model is a Chinese woman. Oops!
Even before that embarrassing gaffe, some Japanese were already protesting against the posters, believing that they are part of a disturbing trend in the country towards right-wing nationalism and historical revisionism regarding Japan’s wartime past.
“I’m a Kyotoite. For a town that’s such a sightseeing destination, this is pathetic, and embarrassing,” wrote one Japanese Twitter user according to SoraNews24.
The Huffington Post Japan discovered that the posters were actually produced by Jinja Honcho, the national association of Shinto shrines, with a spokesman explaining that they hoped to “promote raising the national flag on national holidays, to educate the public about the importance of those national holidays”.
When told that the woman on their promotional posters was not even Japanese, Jinja Honcho brushed off concerns, somehow reasoning that the poster “does not specifically state that the featured person is a Japanese person.”
Meanwhile, the revelation about the woman’s nationality has set off a commotion on Japanese social media. According to the BBC, Japanese web users have compared the controversey to made-in-China “Make America Great Again” hats and have started the popular hashtag #YourPatriotismWasMadeInChina
News about the scandal has also started to break in China with Weibo users happily mocking their least favorite neighbor:
“This just proves that all of Japan is actually Chinese,” writes one netizen.
“It’s impossible to find a better looking model than a Chinese one,” another added.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat