Photo/IllutrationThe T-shirt in question featuring images of mushroom cloud of atomic bomb dropping as well as the words “Patriotism,” “Liberation” and “Korea” worn by a model (Captured from the shopping website)

Superdry, a global fashion brand that is popular in Europe and the United States but hardly known in Japan, sells T-shirts with logos in unintelligible Japanese. In fact, the brand name itself has been rendered into Japanese with kanji and kana characters that read "kyokudo kanso shinasai," which translates literally as "to the extreme you must dry."

If this makes you cringe as a native (or very fluent) speaker of Japanese, you haven't seen the half of it.

Some of the "Japanese" logos seen on Superdry T-shirts are so incomprehensible that you can hardly guess what language they were translated from.

From what I understand, these logos are simply graphics created by designers who have been captivated by Japanese characters.

I think we can simply chuckle and forgive a design that was created by someone who is fond of the Japanese language but has little knowledge of it, and is not at all embarrassed by his or her lack of understanding.

Still, certain forms of ignorance cannot be overlooked.

A member of South Korean boy band BTS wore a T-shirt with a mushroom cloud design and the English words "Patriotism," "Liberation" and "Korea."

This could have been interpreted as a message justifying the atomic bombing of Japan.

In another unpleasant, A-bomb-related entertainment news tidbit, a French-born U.S. musician sang a line that went, "Explosive booty like Nagasaki."

The argument may be made that there was no ill intention in either case, and thus it is no big deal.

But I beg to differ and protest.

Offensive or hurtful expressions vary according to the offended party's nationality and personality. And I believe mutual understanding can be reached only if the offended party voices the hurt.

I would also like to keep the above cases in mind as a warning to myself. I should ask myself, as if looking in the mirror, "Have I hurt or mistreated someone because of my ignorance?"

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 15

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.