Last week, Lady Gaga wandered around Tokyo. Her outfit made some people (not all!) on the Japanese internet upset. But when she left, she donned clothes with nationalistic Japanese connotations, making some unhappy folks happy.
The outfit that originally got under the skin of some Japanese online featured the Korean script for "colour" (컬러). The issue for some was that it seemed like Lady Gaga didn't know the difference between South Korea and Japan — you know, the notion that white people think all Asians are the same. Then, there's the issue of South Korea and Japan currently not getting along for a variety of reasons — whether that's historical issues or stupid politicians on both sides — making more of this Gaga outfit than was probably necessary.
But, when Lady Gaga showed up at the airport outside Tokyo for her flight to Seoul, South Korea, she was wearing this:
As noted on Yahoo News Japan, the outfit contained Japanese kanji for the Empire of Japan (大日本帝国 or Dai Nippon Teikoku). Obviously, some of Japan's more conservative (and vocal) folks online were delighted to see Lady Gaga board a plane to South Korea, a former Japanese colony, wearing clothes that stated "Empire of Japan."
Then, there were those on Japan's biggest forum who were quick to point out what should be readily evident: "I'm sure she has no idea what that says," wrote one 2ch user. "Who bought this for her?" asked another, while yet another pointed out, "This outfit has to be order-made."
On her Instagram account, Lady Gaga wrote that a "Mr. Yamamoto" sent her the outfit. I'm guessing she's referring to Kansai Yamamoto, who has made clothes for her before. He also clothed David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust tour. While the Japanese press points to Imperial Japan kanji and the appearance of the Japanese word for "truth" or "fact" on the outfit, it doesn't say what the entire lace dress read or what the designer's intent was.
But maybe one 2ch user summed it up best: "When she arrived in Japan, she wore clothes with Korean on them. When she left Japan for Korea, she wore an outfit that said 'The Empire of Japan' on it. I wonder if Gaga's message is 'You two need to get along.'"
And when Lady Gaga arrived in South Korea, she changed in another outfit (as she always seems to do while travelling), which was free of any Japanese whatsoever. Thus, it seems, she avoided pissing people off in South Korea. And as she made her way through the airport, she waved a South Korea flag. Yet, the comments section for the above photo on Lady Gaga's Instagram account with someone claiming to live in China (China, not Japan) criticising South Korea and the Korean army with horrible slurs.
And like that, Lady Gaga inadvertently shows just how complicated diplomatic relations in Asia are.
レディー・ガガ、カラフルなポンチョ風服装で離日 [Yahoo! News Japan]