Japanese Idols Dress As Nazis For Halloween

Japanese Idols Dress As Nazis For Halloween

Sigh. Another year, and another group of pop idols dressed as Nazis. In the past, Asian pop groups have gotten in trouble for wearing Nazi inspired uniforms (such as here). Back in 2008, for example, one Japanese idol group got in trouble when its members nominated Adolf Hitler as a “great person” on network television. The young idols drew pictures of the Nazi dictator and referred to him as “Uncle Hitler”.

Japanese Idols Dress As Nazis For Halloween

The group doesn’t explicitly state these are Nazi uniforms, but damn, look at them.

The Nazi-style outfits don’t happen every year, but they do happen a lot. And so, here we are in 2016, and as 2ch points out, Keyakizaka46 is the latest pop group to wear these kind of uniforms.

As I’ve written in the past, Japan did fight with the Nazis during World War II, and some Japanese don’t seem to be as educated about (or sensitive to, for that matter) what the Nazi uniform represents or the real-life horrors those who wore it inflicted.

Japanese Idols Dress As Nazis For Halloween(Image: keyakizaka46 via 2ch)

What’s more, the ambivalence to Nazi iconography could also be because a counterclockwise swastika, or manji as it’s called in Japanese, is traditionally used in Japan on maps to denote Buddhist temples.

Japanese Idols Dress As Nazis For Halloween(Image: keyakizaka46 via 2ch)

Still, seeing yet another idol group dress its members in such outfits is baffling. Wonder what 2017 will bring.

Images: keyakizaka46 via 2ch


  • They don’t have the same stigma attached to them there as they do in the west obviously. Not something I’m gonna condemn them for. As we move further from ww2 it becomes less personal to people and just “another war” albeit one with a horrendous bodycount.

  • I understand that what the Nazis did was bad, but when are we going to move on from it? Why are we letting something that happened nearly 80 years ago get at us? It was bad, we mourned, it’s time to move on.

    Also, on the actual topic of the article, the only thing that I can recognize as slightly nazi-ish is the hat but that kind of hat and the emblem design has been used as the generic “evil dictator” hat for decades now.

      • If ever there’s an example of why getting upset over a Halloween costume is 99% PC stupidity, it’s this argument.

        The Japanese treated prisoners terribly.
        The British carpet bombed civilian cities.
        The Americans nuked two cities.

        No cultural sensitivity around those nations, do whatever you want.

        Don’t dress as a Nazi though! Not because they were the principle drivers of a war that killed 60-80,000,000 people from all over the place, that makes too much sense, you can’t do it because they killed 6 million Jews and that’s on the PC brigades list of things to get upset about.

        If you want to get upset about everything WWII related, that’s fine. If you’re that sensitive then I can’t fault you for that.
        Your kind of thinking is just a mindless tick-the-box approach to PC behaviour though.

        • And this particular article is talking about Nazis, so we’re focusing on that and not Japan, or America, or Britain who all did terrible things as well. I’d be saying the exact same thing if someone made a Halloween costume dressing up as a member of Unit 731.

          If you honestly think that I’m only upset about 6,000,000 Jewish people and not the tens of millions killed by other people (especially Stalin) then I don’t know what to say. It’s not mutually exclusive.

          And if you also think getting upset about Nazi halloween costumes is just “PC” then I’ll leave you to it. Any time I hear the words “political correctness” or “SJWs” I know not to bother.

          • “Any time I hear the words “political correctness” or “SJWs” I know not to engage in any critical thinking that might harm my fragile worldview.”

            Fixed that for ya.

          • Funny, because it’s the libertarian edgelords who seem to be more vocal on Kotaku when the big bad SJWs challenge their world views.

            I don’t know why half the people on this site continue to come here, when it’s pretty well known Kotaku is dirty leftist propaganda.

      • Don’t be silly. 40 million people died during European colonisation of the Americas, but you wouldn’t jump on a guy dressed as a Spanish conquistador for Halloween. Nor would you waggle the finger at someone dressed as a Crusader or Inquisitor, despite being aggressors responsible for millions of deaths each.

        As RandomNoob pointed out, moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. It’s important to learn from our past so we don’t make the same mistakes in the future, but it’s also important to move forwards, and not be stuck in the past. The world and our lives don’t pause just because something bad happens.

      • So do you believe that we should never move on from this event in history? Do you think that 1000 years from now, anything to do with Nazis should be absolute taboo? WW2 was a very long time ago. Let us not forget what happened, but move on with our lives and not live in the past.

          • Who ever said anything about making jokes? I thought this was about dressing up in costumes.

          • Nobody said anything about jokes. I’m talking about not letting our past hold us back.

          • This is a genuine question so please don’t take it as rhetorical. What makes a fascist uniform more offensive to you than (for example) a Viking costume? Both were responsible for mass murder, extreme racism and other horrific acts; why do you (as in you personally, hotcakes, not a hypothetical third person) react more strongly to one than the other?

          • People that were involved on both sides are still alive. It’s less than 100 years ago. It’s incredibly fresh in historical terms. Personal members of my family fought in the Pacific so they’ve seen some of the horrors of WW2 first hand. Not Nazi concentration camps, but similar acts.

            I also hate to get into “rank the evil from 1-10”, but Vikings pillaging/invading countries/murdering civilians is bad, but putting six million people into gas chambers is arguably worse. (before anyone nitpicks and ignores the rest of my comment, no, not all six million were killed by gas chambers. They died by other means.)

          • Comment depth limit, why do you still exist *shakefist*

            @hotcakes Thanks for the response. I may have misinterpreted it but it seems to suggest that we both agree context is relevant to the issue.

          • @zombiejesus this newfangled site, and we still have the same comment depth limit!

            Appreciate the discussion. I think we may still disagree on some things, but it shows it’s obviously possible to have a conversation on Kotaku without screeching at each other.

  • I wish we could have seen the uniform under the cloak.
    Because aside from the iron eagle like badge on the hat, I’m not seeing much more.
    If that’s the case, its no different to the themes imagery we see in films etc

    Anyway, the costumes that will pop up in the US will make this look tame in a few days

    • Yeah, these aren’t ‘Nazi’ uniforms at all. They are just generic ‘fascist’ style uniforms, which appear in countless anime series as well as manga.

      Sure, the Japanese like this kind of uniform and fetishize fascist institutions more than is acceptable in the West, but these uniforms alone are hardly objectionable.

      Saying stuff like “Hitler was a great guy” however, well….

  • It is tricky, people can dress as historical figures or the devil or can dress as British or American soldiers, but there still is a stigma dressing as German ones.
    I understand both sides, and don’t have an answer, but there has been a lot more comedy and deconstruction of the WW2 situations in the past ten years, with shows like Danger5, Kung Fury, Iron Sky, Look Who’s Back and many others, but I reckon you probably can’t cosplay as the Hitler or German characters from those shows yet, without getting some heavy criticism.

    The photos of the pop women in the article are pretty generic German-ish officer uniforms, apart from the eagle, they have no actual German or Nazi emblems on them. This feels more like people trying to find a reason to criticise to show how politically correct they are for criticising.

  • This kind of thing just makes me think of Mel Brook’s attitude to it all where – as a Jew who fought in the war – he has made it his goal to make the Nazis nothing more than a joke, thus ‘Springtime for Hitler’ in ‘The Producers’.
    If the Nazis have been reduced to the punchline of a joke and a fashion style admired mostly by Japanese teenagers then this kind of makes me happy if only because the real Nazis would have probably HATED this.

  • I was married in Malaysia in a Buddhist temple and half my wedding photos have me literally surrounded by happy buddhas and swastikas.

  • A friend dressed up as Gaddafi and carried a gold (cardboard) AK-74 a few years ago.
    People dress up as monsters on Halloween. Nazis were monsters. I don’t particularly see the problem.
    Seems like more misdirected anger.

  • I do like how all the ‘OMG SUCH A PC WASTE OF TIME BEING UPSET ABOUT THIS’ arguments are predicated on the notion of ignorance.

    Now let’s assume for a second you folks aren’t being horribly racist and assuming Japanese people lack the cognitive capacity to study history or understand the consequences of their actions (and I bet half of you are).

    That means they know perfectly well what Nazi iconography is associated with and stands for.

    Therefore this is a deliberate choice to invoke those meanings.

    So you’re left with one of two options.

    – This is some kind of elaborate Leftist satire/performance art making a chilling commentary on the connection between a culture that turned inwards on itself and exterminated millions of Jews and a culture that has turned inwards on itself and glorifies the sexualisation of children/child like women due to its inability to establish healthy cultural relationship structures


    – This is a terrible attempt to get attention by invoking the worst of humanity to score clickbait and stir up a bunch of conservative scumbags to make justifications about how one of the worst genocides in human history should be minimised for entertainment purposes.

    Your call, it’s a hard one.

    • You’ve created a false dichotomy, there are obviously more options than the two disingenuous ones you’ve presented.

      It should really go without saying that different cultures have different sensitivities. The correctly-oriented swastika is widespread through south-east and east Asia, but in the west it attracts hostility. A samurai costume wouldn’t make anyone blink twice in western countries but would be pretty offensive in China. You could wear a Turkish merchant costume anywhere you like, as long as it’s not Armenia where you’re liable to get the shit kicked out of you. Wear a skimpy outfit and you’ll get plenty of candy in the US but you’ll be arrested in the Middle East.

      In the cultural context these girls are in, this kind of iconography simply doesn’t carry the same sensitivity as it does here. It’s just not offensive there, the same way most of those costumes I mentioned above aren’t offensive here. As Jane West wrote in The Loyalists:

      Let us not attribute to malice and cruelty what may be referred to less criminal motives. Do we not often afflict others undesignedly, and, from mere carelessness, neglect to relieve distress?

      Edited to add: In any case, fascist iconography is widespread in entertainment. People above noted Mel Brooks’ famous use of Nazi iconography for comedic ridicule, but aside from the countless video games that deal with the subject both comedically and seriously, Warhammer 40K is a great example of entertainment that draws on the Roman aquila (the direct inspiration for both the Nazi eagle and modern US eagle iconography) and WW2-era fascist uniforms as seen extensively in the Imperial Guard.

      • Yeah, but they’re not wearing the correctly oriented swastika. They’re wearing a Nazi uniform that just happens to not have the swastika on it.

        I have absolutely nothing against the correct use of the swastika in terms of Buddhism etc. That icon was around long before Nazism so it shouldn’t be ruined by it.

        Also, when the country in question’s Prime Minister is a revisionist and directly questions whether comfort girls were a thing, I’d probably take their “cultural context” on 20th century history with a grain of salt.

        EDIT: I’m not saying these girls wore the uniform out of malice by any means. But cultural ignorance isn’t an excuse, even if it’s innocent in its origin.

        • So you expect every person in every culture to be beholden to the sensitivities of every other person in every other culture? Aside from the burden of knowledge being extreme, it’s an impossible standard because everything offends someone somewhere. On the other hand, if you’re drawing lines between which sensitivities deserve to be respected and which don’t, you’re just forcing your own values onto others.

          I’ve studied a lot of other cultures (mostly historical) and I think the most important thing I’ve learned from it is that you can’t really understand another culture until you accept that your own world view is both subjective and individual. Everything is culturally driven, there are no absolutes. Our culture and our personal ethics aren’t universally right just because they’re ours, nor are theirs universally wrong just because they go against ours.

          • For the most part yes, but with some caveats I won’t go into. The notion of absolute morality requires either a universal natural law of behaviour (despite countless examples of contrary behaviour in both animals and people), or an extra-universal law of behaviour (which requires the existence of a higher power, leading to the Euthyphro dilemma). I see no evidence to support either of those, it’s my view that morality is a human construct.

      • So you’ve not actually provided anything that even looks like a cogent suggestion as to why they might do this other than the ‘false dichotomy’, conflated direct appropriation with general depiction, stumbled through the ‘satire defence’ and provided an extremely misleading and ill-considered series of examples?

        What you said was:

        ‘You could wear a Turkish merchant costume anywhere you like, as long as it’s not Armenia where you’re liable to get the shit kicked out of you. ‘

        when what you MEANT to say was:

        ‘You could wear the uniform precisely depicting an Ottoman soldier responsible for the Armenian genocide and you’d be seen to be causing huge offence anywhere that people knew what that meant and in Armenia you’d get the shit kicked out of you.’

        So yes, your argument predicates on the fact that ‘ignorant orientals’ don’t know what the holocaust is and what representation of Nazism intends. Because that is exactly what you are doing.

        Surprise, surprise.

        Thanks for clearing that up, ZombieJesus!

        Allow me to give you a better example:

        What does your argument say about wearing a ‘hiroshima victim’ costume for teh lolz?

        Would that be OK in Iceland?

        Thing is, given the length of sentences you construct I must assume you know as well as I do that what actually happened here is that they wore those costumes in full knowledge of the attention it would get them. That they aren’t actually culturally ignorant, and that they made a conscious commercial decision to cause offence in order to stir up controversy, because their job is precisely to get media attention.

        You may want to consider your train of thought that decided to pull out of the station, take a detour around the obvious answer, and steam deep into the tunnel of ‘Why I make Philosophy 101 statements that I don’t actually believe in myself’.

        PS – never use the terms ‘false dichotomy’ or ‘false narrative’. You’re just forcing your own values onto others 😉

        • It would be nice if we could keep the tone of this conversation above the level of mockery and ad hominems, don’t you? I’m not here to attack you, I’m just explaining why I think you’ve come to the wrong conclusion.

          So you’ve not actually provided anything that even looks like a cogent suggestion as to why they might do this other than the ‘false dichotomy’

          I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear enough. The alternative I outlined was here:

          In the cultural context these girls are in, this kind of iconography simply doesn’t carry the same sensitivity as it does here. It’s just not offensive there, the same way most of those costumes I mentioned above aren’t offensive here.

          That is, they wore it because it’s ‘just another costume’ in the context they live in. Why pick Frankenstein instead of Dracula for your costume this year? Because it was easier, it was more available, it was the one you were in the mood for. Grand motivations aren’t necessary when the options have little contextual gravity, which is what I was outlining.

          when what you MEANT to say was:

          I said what I meant to say, please don’t construct straw men.

          So yes, your argument predicates on the fact that ‘ignorant orientals’ don’t know what the holocaust is and what representation of Nazism intends. Because that is exactly what you are doing.

          Wilful misinterpretation. I never mentioned ignorance, the predicate of my argument was context, which each example I gave outlined. All of the examples I gave can be safely worn in the context we live in whether we’re aware of their meaning to others or not, but can’t be safely worn in particular other contexts. Fascist uniforms are no different.

          As for what Nazism represents, that’s detached from the costume itself. Nazi imagery is disconnected from the acts that were taken beneath it, and that’s a natural function of the passing of time. Conquistadors represented to native Americans mass murder, torture, rape and cultural obliteration, but that has nothing to do with choosing it as a costume. Samurai and Vikings likewise represented indiscriminate murder of civilians, rape and the total destruction of villages to the Chinese and north-west Europeans respectively, but that has nothing to do with choosing it as a costume. While at the time that appearance was effectively tantamount to support, time causes that association to break. Wearing a fascist uniform doesn’t mean you support fascism or what fascists did in the past any more than wearing a Viking outfit means you support rape.

          If you find the imagery these girls are wearing offensive then that’s your choice of course, and I’m genuinely sorry if either that or my responses have exacerbated your discomfort. But it just takes looking over the rest of the replies in this thread to see that many if not a majority of people here don’t find it as much of a problem as you do. That’s not to say your feelings are wrong by any means, just that time is passing and the trend is likely only going to grow. It’s normal for this to happen, they’re not ‘wrong’ because they don’t share your sensitivities, they’re just different.

          PS: A false dichotomy is an objective logical fallacy that has nothing to do with values.

  • “PS: A false dichotomy is an objective logical fallacy that has nothing to do with values.”

    No, it is not. In order for you to establish a dichotomy as ‘false’, you either must examine two entirely concrete empirically-defined objects (which you cannot do philosophically anyway) or, as in the case you are making here, create a value judgment from within a predefined paradigm of value sets . It is not a ‘logical fallacy’, that is not how that terms works, but given the prevalence of its use among internet denizens who think they are way cleverer than they are, it’s not surprising you have picked up an incorrect definition.

    PS: The above is philosophy 201. Bonus points if your comeback gets to Philosophy 301!

    PPS: I don’t give a hoot what they wear, but I am eternally amused by putting the wind up people who enjoy delivering definitive views that happen to align with the mainstream and then claiming some kind of essential validity. And those who cover their snark in a layer of creamy, dripping condescension 😉 It’s the best kind of thing for imitative mockery.

    • You’re mistaken. A false dichotomy is the assertion that only specific options are available when at least one other option exists. I’ve given you at least one other option, and you hinted at a fourth possibility yourself – simple lack of awareness. False dichotomy is a logical fallacy, in that P->Q fails and the argument is unsound.

      In detail:
      Your argument is formally stated as such (P->Q, P.:Q):
      1. If these girls wear Nazi uniforms, then it is only because of either leftist satire, or deliberate use of controversial imagery to gain attention.
      2. These girls wore Nazi uniforms,
      3. Therefore it was only because of either leftist satire or deliberate use of controversial imagery to gain attention.
      Your assertion is only sound when P->Q and P.:Q are both true. In a false dichotomy such as you presented, the first statement P does not lead to Q specifically because your Q is not the exclusive result of P. If you’d replaced ‘is only one of’ with ‘may be one of’ then your assertion P->Q would be true, but that wasn’t the case.

      If you were to assert that apples can only be green or red, I need only show you a yellow apple (an objective action) to disprove it. Subjective evaluation is not necessary to render the argument unsound.

      And those who cover their snark in a layer of creamy, dripping condescension
      Glad to know you amuse yourself so easily 😉 In all honesty though, if I’ve come across condescending to you I apologise. Cultural anthropology (and history, more broadly) has always been a passion of mine and they both tie in fairly directly to the subject of this article. I’m just interested in the conversation, I’m not looking to attack anyone.

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