Justin Bieber thought he was just pulling off to the side of the road to take a photo op at a beautiful shrine in Tokyo, only to land himself in deep water because of the site's controversial history.
"While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine," he wrote of the detour on his current trip. "I was mislead to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer."
By the time the since-deleted photo of Bieber captioned "Thank you for your blessings" had gotten more than 660,000 likes, though, Bieber (or his team) realized that this was no ordinary shrine. As it turns out, the Yasukuni Shrine honors former military leaders from Japan's imperial army who committed war atrocities in China and other regions in Asia during the Pacific War.
The shrine, where 14 class-A war criminals are buried, has been a constant source of tension between China and Japan and the Shanghaiist blog (which re-posted the photo) suggested that the snap "just alienated a few hundred million Chinese fans."
Justin Bieber visits Yasukuni~ No, I don't follow him! pic.twitter.com/CnblhUTZQ6— RF Parsley (@sanverde) April 23, 2014