Popular Chinese singer and actor Zhang Zhehan faces a major boycott in his home country, including being kicked out by Danish jewelry maker Pandora from their upcoming projects, after photos of him recently surfaced at the shrine Yasukuni in Japan for a friend’s wedding in 2018.
Although it was taken three years ago, the photo recently appeared on the Weibo social media platform and has already had far-reaching consequences for Zhang Zhehan. The Chinese Performing Arts Association (CAPA) has called for a boycott of the actor over his posting to the controversial site that honors 14 Japanese Class A war criminals who died in the wars for the Emperor of Japan in 1867 to 1951. The site has sparked protests from several neighboring countries, including China, who believe their presence shows that Japan has not acknowledged that war crimes were committed.
In April of this year, Pandora Jewelry officially announced that Zhang Zhehan had become a new ambassador for the Danish jewelry brand in China, but since the photos resurfaced, the company kicked him out of all their upcoming projects.
Following the outrage, the 30-year-old actor issued a public apology in which he said, “I solemnly apologize (for …) the content of my photos which has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. . ” Zhang Zhehan went on to explain that he attended his friend’s wedding in Japan and was “ashamed” of his “offense”. “I’m not pro-Japanese, I’m Chinese! he said, continuing, “’I have never made remarks harmful to my homeland on any occasion. I love my homeland deeply.
Although he has publicly pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, it appears the damage has already been done. Nogi Shrine is also dedicated to Nogi Maresuke, who is known for the massacre of Lushun in Port Arthur during the First Sino-Japanese War and relations between China and Japan remain strained due to the invasion of China by Japan before World War II.
In addition to being kicked out by Pandora, around 25 other companies also terminated their contracts with the actor while Welbo deleted his profile. Additionally, music platforms like QQ Music and NetEase Music have responded to the photos by deleting all of his music and deleting his personal profile and Zhang Zhehan has also been cut from scenes in several movies he has appeared in.