An appearance on Japanese TV by Korean band BTS has been cancelled after one of their members was photographed wearing a t-shirt depicting an atomic bomb, alongside the English words "PATRIOTISM OUR HISTORY LIBERATION KOREA".

The photograph of Jimin, believed to be taken around 2013, went viral on Japanese social media, as it was claimed the t-shirt depicted a mushroom cloud over the city of Nagasaki. 

Broadcaster TV Asahi issued a statement apologising to viewers for the cancelled appearance, which was due to take place Friday, and said it had talked with the band's recording company to try to learn why he wore the t-shirt. Company spokesperson Shinya Matsuki declined further comment.

Universal Music said it will continue to support BTS but confirmed their appearance on the live music show, titled Music Station, was cancelled. 

The Korean Peninsula was colonised by Japan from 1910 to 1945, with the country's liberation only occurring after Japan was defeated in WWII. The historical legacy of this period is extremely sensitive for both countries and continues to impact their relationship: million of Koreans suffered during the occupation, while over 200,000 people died when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

Arguably the best-known exponents of K-pop internationally – the genre itself celebrated for its wild visuals, cutting-edge fashion and intricate choreography – BTS are the first Korean act to crack the US Top 40, hitting number 11 in August with their track “Idol”. They also spoke at the UN earlier this year. 

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