ITV and Anne-Marie apologise after 'offensive' Ant and Dec skit
Singer Anne-Marie and ITV have apologised after her appearance on Saturday Night Takeaway, during which presenters Ant and Dec wore bandanas featuring the Japanese Rising Sun flag.
The 28-year-old singer, who is also a karate expert, performed her hit Ciao Adios alongside Ant and Dec, who wore white tunics and headbands featuring the image as part of a martial arts-inspired performance.
Japan‘s Rising Sun flag is seen by some as a symbol of the country’s imperialist past.
Anne-Marie hit out at the choice of costumes following the show, apologising for the “hurt” caused and saying she had “nothing to do” with the outfits.
ITV apologised “for any offence caused” and said steps were being taken to re-edit the episode for catch-up audiences.
The Rising Sun flag was incorporated by the Japanese army during the 19th century and was the flag of its navy during the Second World War, when the country was allied with Nazi Germany.
However, the flag has been widely used as a national symbol in Japan for centuries and commonly appears on products, in adverts, and in popular culture in the East Asian island nation.
In a post on Twitter on Sunday, Anne-Marie said: “I sincerely apologise to all those who were affected and hurt by my appearance last night on a UK TV.
“I want you to know I had nothing to do with the costumes on this sketch.
“Unfortunately, education on this part of the history wasn’t done and I am also hurt by the pain this signifies for so many people.
“Our team is talking to the TV station, working on taking down the footage, so that it does not cause any more pain.”
An ITV spokesman said: “We apologise for any offence caused during the End of the Show Show by the costumes worn.
“This was clearly unintended and we have taken steps to re-edit that part of the episode for the Hub and for repeat broadcasts.”
Ofcom said it received three complaints about the programme, but none were related to the costumes. Two related to a prank involving boxer Anthony Joshua, while the third was about a cake being dropped on the floor.
The Rising Sun flag – a sunburst with 16 rays – has a complex history and is separate from Japan’s Hinomaru (circle of the sun) flag, that was legally made the national flag in 1999.
South Korea, which was occupied by the Japanese between 1910 and 1945, is particularly critical of the Rising Sun symbol, which it has called a symbol of Japanese “imperialism and militarism”.
In 2013, Japan’s foreign ministry released a statement on the issue, saying the design was “widely used throughout Japan, such as good catch flags used by fishermen, celebratory flags for childbirth and seasonal festivities, and flags of Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force vessels”.
It added: “Claims that the flag is an expression of political assertions or a symbol of militarism are absolutely false.”
Last year, a spokesman for the Tokyo Olympics said there were no plans to ban the banner at the 2020 Games, despite calls from South Korea.
Football’s governing body FIFA, however, has banned its use, and in 2017 the Asian Football Confederation sanctioned Japan after Japanese fans flew the flag at an AFC Champions League, according to the Reuters news agency.