Can’t Wear That On Television

Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights organization The Simon Wiesenthal Center made a formal complaint to MTV Japan, Sony Music Artists and the Avex Group over a segment broadcast in late February on MTV Japan featuring the six-member Japanese vocal group Kishidan.

During a performance and interview on the show, the group was wearing what looked like Nazi uniforms.

Kishidan play rock and normally sport costumes associated with high school juvenile delinquents, which is part of their appeal. Often, such clothing when worn by post-adolescents is associated with right-wing nationalism, though Kishidan has never seemed particularly political-minded.

Their purpose is more like mild provocation. With the Nazi uniforms they obviously stepped over the line, though there have been no reports of complaints from within Japan.

In any case, Sony and MTV quickly issued an apology. While saying that the costumes were “not meant to carry any ideological meaning whatsoever,” the statement, posted in English and Japanese on the websites of both Sony Music Artists and Kishidan itself, apologized “for the distress [the costumes] caused Simon Wiesenthal Center and all concerned.”

MTV Japan released a statement saying “we never intended to offend anyone and have taken the footage and related images off the air and off our website.” No overt apology was offered.

A representative of the center told the Wall Street Journal that the center was not satisfied with the MTV response.

“They would be doing better to the young generations in Japan if they actually made the effort to explain to them, to the young people and their viewers, why it is inappropriate.” In fact, it is the second complaint that the center has made in the last several months with regard to Nazi iconography.

In December, the center protested the sale of Nazi costumes at Japanese discount stores. Most young Japanese are not even aware that Japan and Nazi Germany were allies during World War II. The center has also complained about uses of Nazi imagery in other Asian countries.