A Japanese entrepreneur once touted as a maverick business leader who could change Japan's clubby corporate culture caused a stir Wednesday for wearing a T-shirt showing a character resembling Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler on national television.
Japan's public broadcaster NHK apologized for offending people over the shirt worn by Takafumi Horie on one of its programs aired live. Horie donned the black shirt featuring the face of a man and the words "NO WAR."
(From NHK television)
NHK said it has received some complaints from viewers saying it was "inappropriate" to wear such a shirt.
Horie said on Twitter that he was stunned by the impact of NHK.
"I have worn a shirt showing Hitler making a peace sign with the words 'NO WAR' a number of times, but this is the first time (my wearing this kind of shirt) went viral," said the 44-year-old who appeared as a guest on the information program "Gogo Nama."
He went on to say, "However way you look at it, wishing for peace is the only message you can see from this T-shirt."
The wearing of Nazi-like attire or signs, which evoke memories of the genocide of Jews carried out by Hitler's Nazi Germany during World War II, often goes viral and draws criticism at home and abroad.
Last year, a Japanese all-girl "idol" group named Keyakizaka46 was criticized for wearing outfits resembling Nazi uniforms.
The former internet tycoon himself -- who has penned an autobiography with a Japanese title similar to that of a book written by Hitler -- is not new to controversy.
He grabbed attention for his bold remarks about the country's business old guard and attempts such as a hostile takeover battle in 2005 with Fuji Television Network Inc.
Horie, founder and former president of internet service provider Livedoor Co., was sentenced in 2007 to two years and six months in prison without suspension for involvement in accounting fraud and other securities law breaches. He was released in 2013 on parole after having served 21 months.
Livedoor was delisted from stock exchanges after the scandal and absorbed by the Japanese unit of South Korean internet portal company NHN Corp.
His investment portfolio includes Interstellar Technologies Inc., a space venture based in Hokkaido. The start-up which he founded said earlier this month it will launch a small-sized rocket developed independently without government funding.