Zhang Zhehan, the Chinese actor and singer is caught up in a controversy after posting photos of him attending a friend’s wedding at a controversial Nogi shrine in Japan. The shire is dedicated to General Nogi Maresuke, who set off the Port Arthur massacre during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).
Photos of Zhang dug up by netizens that show him posing in front of Yasukuni Shrine have added the fuel to the fire, as the shrine is an even more sensitive location considering that it is dedicated to the Japanese soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the emperor, including 14 World War Two Leaders that were convicted as “Class A” war criminals. It is regarded as a symbol of military aggression by Japan.
These photos soon sparked public anger on social media. Although loyal fans have come to Zhang’s defence, the majority of Weibo users have been harshly criticising and calling to boycott the 30-year-old.
26 companies cut ties with Zhang within four hours, including jewellery brand Pandora, skincare brands KIMTRUE, NIVEA, Clinique and Maybelline, and Coca-Cola. Some are speculating that the series he has starred in might soon be taken down.
“As a public figure, he should have had a better political sensitivity and watched his behaviour more carefully.”
“I think every Chinese should have understood what Yasukuni Shrine means to the country. It’s not something that can simply be solved with an apology. He should be cancelled forever.”Comments from Chinese netizens
Zhang and his team’s official Weibo accounts, and Weibo Super Topic related to the actor have been closed down one day after the posting ban for violating Community Guidelines. The actor’s account on Douyin (Chinese Tik Tok) has also been shut down.