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back to article Beeb say sorry for Stephen Fry A-bomb quip

The BBC and Talkback Thames have apologised for Stephen Fry's description of double A-bomb survivor Tsutomu Yamaguchi as "the unluckiest man in the world". The QI presenter - himself described by Julie Burchill as "a stupid person's idea of a clever person" - offended delicate Japanese sensiblities during a December outing of …

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FFS

is nothing allowed to have any opposition, controversy, or thick skin any longer and everyone has to bend over and apologise to everyone?

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Japanese sensitivity?

"However on this occasion, given the sensitivity of the subject matter for Japanese viewers, we understand why they did not feel it appropriate for inclusion in the programme."

Well fuck-a-doodle-do. Japanese sensitivity? Maybe, instead of jokes next episode, they can give a litany of the inhuman crimes committed by the Japanese government, and a significant section of its people, during WWII. Oh, I don't know, the medical experiments, comfort women, forced labour camps, etc. Maybe devote a special to describing exactly what happened then.

We know all about Germany's actions during WWII, but Japan was just as bad; I say "fuck their sensibilities".

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Anonymous Coward

what

What makes it worse is that the Japanese for the most part barely acknowledge the things they did (They didn't have to as part of the American take over)

It also wasn't just the war their Colonial occupation of Korea was monstrous, and many woman and children from Korea were taken as "comfort women", while huge numbers were taken to Japan and work as force labour.

That's before we get onto the joys of Nanjing.

Despite all that I'm still big on both Japan and China, go figure. I mean the rest of the West weren't exactly pleasant with their various occupations of the Far East pre ww2

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Pint

Well said!

If the Japanese are going to get all twitchy then perhaps we can remind them of their war crimes? The crimes for which it took so long to get reparations and apologies for, not just for the Europeans who were subjected to brutality, but the local populations on the east of mainland Asia who are still fighting to get apologies and compensation.

Tell you what, perhaps we all take the things said in the vein they were actually said in? We all grow up and perhaps, just perhaps, the world would be a better place.

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Japanese sensitivities

Maybe they should have waited and complained when it was aired in Japan and like you say they were hardly saints - just ask the Chinese. The man was stating something that would seem to the casual observer as factual even if it was made in jest.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmmm

You have to go a long way to be offended by a TV program that is as tongue in cheek as can be, is seen as amusing in a culture different to your own, shown in a language different to your native tongue, in another country 6000 miles from your own AND, as others have pointed out, your society perpetrated some rather nasty things on the world, and the country where the program is shown in particular..

Sheesh.

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Unit 731 - So the text below is beyond unpleasant. You have been warned.

AC: "...the rest of the West weren't exactly pleasant ..." You what?? Take a gander at what the Japanese are keen to keep quiet:

"Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel."

"Prisoners of war were subjected to vivisection without anesthesia.Vivisections were performed on prisoners after infecting them with various diseases. Scientists performed invasive surgery on prisoners, removing organs to study the effects of disease on the human body. These were conducted while the patients were alive because it was feared that the decomposition process would affect the results.The infected and vivisected prisoners included men, women, children, and infants."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731

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Yep

Considering what passes for television comedy in Japan simply doesn't have any concept of satire or irony, then along comes QI with its gentle wit involving - oh look - satire and irony - and you have a recipe for a massive cultural misunderstanding which IMHO makes the Japanese (or at least the particular section of Japanese society who are up in arms about this*) look very silly indeed. Perhaps if Fry et al. had been blacked up it wouldn't have been such an issue.**

* I get the impression that this is just as manufactured as the constant torrent of cringeworthy "what must the rest of the world think of us?" Daily Mail style outcries here in the UK, and that a significant proportion of Japanese folk are intensely embarrassed about this. The ones I know are anyway.

** Yep, folk are still getting blacked up for laughs on Japanese TV.

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Alert

Death Marches anyone?

Insane cruelty,

Starvation,

Forced labour?

No?

Thought not.

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Jobs Horns

Some people have the longest memories.

I suppose you can remember it personally and you do not buy Japanese products in protest. Oh yeah, believe that.

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I fail to see

how this can be offensive enough to merrit an apology. Perhaps it was tastless, at worst but come on........

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I would have thought..

That he was the luckiest person alive.

Not having access to the full context of the joke it's hard to say much, but I would have thought that a man that survived World War 2 and lived to 93 AND had two atomic bombs dropped near to him (obviously not directly on him) would have to count as pretty fortunate.

Many other people were far less lucky then him.

ttfn

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"Not having access to the full context of the joke..."

Why comment then? Seriously! There's too much of this on the interwebs. It wasn't made as a fucking joke. He actually said; "Well, this man is either the unluckiest or the luckiest, depending on which way you look at it."

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Anonymous Coward

Burchill

Julie Burchill - a hopelessly out of touch champagne-socialist's idea of a clever person.

For many others - an utterly nauseating waste of oxygen and newspaper copy who has somehow managed to get her pious ideas published despite the comprehensive pointlessness of almost all of them.

Fry - yes, not as clever as many think, judging by his misunderstanding on many technical issues he chooses to comment on, but at least he does have some purpose in this life.

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B u r c h i l l . . .

"Julie Burchill - a hopelessly out of touch champagne-socialist's idea of a clever WORKING CLASS person, and perennial victim despite being white, rich and female"

Fixed that for you.

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That's her in the corner, isn't it...?

...Regaining her religion. Oh, wait, it's a different religion, this week, isn't it, Julie? (It's a bit like being an agnostic, except Burchill is incapable of agnosticism, since she is incapable of doubt.) In fact the only truth is, that Burchill is right - even if what she is being right about, today, is diametrically opposed to what she was being right about, yesterday.

Champagne Socialist? More of a cocaine socialist, really. It must be great, being the sort of working class person, who can retire from £300,000 a year, because of a 'lack of ambition'.

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I have been in Japan twice

but that this caused offense baffles me. Especially when at the ground-zero museum in Hiroshima there is precious little mention whatsoever of Japan starting the war against the US, or any of the atrocities committed by the Imperial Army. The anti-war attitude of the museum is fine, but the overall picture is rather unbalanced.

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Alert

"unluckiest man in the world"

I dunno, I think Fry's pretty accurate on this one. If Tsotomu-san had also been unfortunate enough to shack up with my ex-wife, it's be beyond any doubt.

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Anonymous Coward

Luckiest Unluckiest Person

How many people survived two A-bomb blasts for any length of time at all, and this fellow lives a full lifetime.

The Japanese need to get over it. They would have willingly died by the hundreds of thousands in suicide charges to defend the beaches on Honshu and then any survivors would have gone on to take their wives and children and jump off the nearest cliff when they could no longer fight.

The museum needs to have some of the film of the cliff jumpers on Okinawa.

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JDX
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PC madness

I know the Register has a vendetta against the guy, but this isn't news and is only reported here because it's Fry. How about using the site for news rather than your personal soap-box to attack people you don't like?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: PC madness

Erm...

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FAIL

Re: Re:PC madness

Sarah wouldn't know, about the recent stories. AO doesn't allow comments.

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Jobs Halo

Yeah but

He's a famous fanboi, so they're kind of obligated to write articles

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Re:PC madness

Why wouldn't I know? I do read and edit stories as well as herding you lot. It's just that I always find it amusing when someone cries 'vendetta' because, well, we hate everyone, pretty much - so how could you tell?

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Troll

Re: Erm...

I think what Sarah is trying to say is that el Reg publishes this type of story because of the quality and variety of the comments it can evoke from the commentards.

In other words, el Reg is trolling...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Erm...

Not really, no.

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WTF?

Trolling?

I agree with the Moderatrix as there has been no mention of Fry's addiction to all things Apple and 'i'. Nor has there been anything about Facebook, Penguin fanciers, anti-virus companies, Uber-Google, etc. etc.

Burchill, however, has somehow omitted the additional 'Luckiest man in the world' that followed.

If anything it is the champion of all things total bollocks who is trolling.

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Troll

Sir

PC Madness <- there's your IT link right there.

Have you got a vendetta against El Reg having a vendetta?

If so, the rules of vendetta are clear.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Re:PC madness

That was a joke response also masqurading as a dig at AO. I suppose I should have 'joke Alert'd it but the dig at AO forced my hand into selecting FAIL. I know you are free to read any of el'reg but I was inferring that sometimes it must really feel like busman's holiday, and after dealing with 'us lot' especially so...Profuse apologies, for any offence.

humbled commentard.

PS whatever happened to that gameshow?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:PC madness

No offence taken. I was just letting you know that my main job isn't actually moderating, in case you were starting to feel special.

Gameshow?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:PC madness

Either your showing your age, and your a lot younger than I thought... or its a cunning ploy to not show your age. in which case well done!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busman's_Holiday_(game_show)

Geeze if your main job is not moderating then sheesh they work you hard! I guess with a title like moderatrix one makes assumptions.

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WTF?

Ok, I know I'm not Japanese, but...

I saw this episode of QI, and remember them discussing this. Yes, it was mentioned that he could be the unluckiest person in the world for being in both cities when they were bombed, but they also turned it around and pointed out that the fact that he survived both blasts could also have meant that he was, in fact, the luckiest person in the world. Sounds balanced and the poor man in question certainly wasn't made the butt of any poor taste jokes that I remember.

Perhaps this is just my own naivety, in which case I apologise, and I know that I'm anything but "high-brow", but I don't see anything to be getting offended about - perhaps someone could (politely) explain it to me - I am legitimately confused by the reaction. Granted there may be some ... sensitivity ... over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, understandably so, but surely you can't cause offence by implying someone is unlucky to have been hit by two nuclear devices?

Perhaps I should brace myself for boos and downvotes...

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and if I remember correctly

from the same episode, St Stephen of Fry also noted that the rail links to Hiroshima were back in place just 24 hours after the bombing, allowing Tsutomu Yamaguchi to make the trip to Nagasaki.

All the Japanese military would have need to cripple the British rail system would have been a small snow maker near the East Coast mainline.

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Idiots

Nothing - nothing shows how retarded the whole PC thing is more than this. The BBC which stood as a bastion of freedom flying its very flag daily from 39-45 now acts like a giant pile of stinking shit on a daily basis.

The japanese still don't apologise for their actions. They still hide WW2 and their atrocities from their own children. They deserve no apology. Period. If they want apologies for anything in WW2, they have a serious amount of apologising to a lot of people before they open their mouths.

They still refuse payments in compensation to people they held in inhuman condition in the camps in WW2. Its disgusting.

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japanese still don't apologise [citation needed]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_issued_by_Japan

I take it that you're from the USA from the way you end one of your sentences. Period. I guess that the bias of your post is because of this. But your statement that the Japanese haven't apologised just doesn't wash, as a very quick web search confirms. I did a parallel search on US apologies for bombing Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but it turned up nothing except people (up to US presidents) basically saying "why? we have nothing to apologise for".

As someone who has spent some time living in Japan, I have, as you might expect, some sympathy for the plight of the Japanese in being the only country in the world to have had nuclear weapons used on them. You might think that the US has nothing to apologise for, but there is a fairly clear sentiment, particularly among older Japanese, that dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki was totally disproportionate and unnecessary. This is to say nothing of the horror of the use of nuclear weapons in the first place (to say nothing of the US firebombing campaign, but that's another issue). Perhaps you think that both bombings were necessary, and maybe even just, but I'm afraid that I, like many, just don't see such moral clarity in those actions.

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Megaphone

The first bomb was unecessay

Dropping the first bomb was totally unnecessary, in the light of evidence disclosed since WW II.

Japan was under a total sea/air blockade - firestorms from bombing in Tokyo, no industry.

Read (for example) The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire by John Toland.

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WTF?

Let's just see.

In the whole of history only two nuclear weapons have ever been used in anger against populated targets*.

Mr Yamaguchi was under both of them.

I call fair comment meself. People who get struck by lightning more than once are often referred to as being rather unlucky, yet there are thousands of lighting strikes in the world every day. I'd say the only thing Steven Fry is guilty of here is understatement; "Unluckiest man in the whole of recorded history" might be better here.

*Tinfoil hatters? YMMV.....

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Anonymous Coward

Amusing?

I was going to comment that I found the comment rather funny, and sympathetically taking the mick rather than saying anything nasty.

But then I remembered my country has never had two atomic bombs dropped on it, killing several hundred thousand people directly and indirectly over later years and causing untold psychological trauma.

So maybe I should just shut up.

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FAIL

>psychological trauma

Frankly I have damn all sympathy when I consider the psychological damage to all the millions, my grandfather included, that Japan was responsible for. Disgraceful behaviour on the part of the BBC.

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Stop

@Amusing

google "Rape of Nanking" or "japanese WW2 atrocities" and remind yourself who started the war in the first place.

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@AC RE: Amusing

It is fairly clear to anyone with any knowledge of the latter stages of WW2 that in actual fact the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan saved more lives than it took.

Not just Allied lives, but when you see the behaviour of the Japanese at places like Iwo Jima (fanatical fight to the death) or Saipan (20,000+ civilian suicides) it is obvious that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have resulted in horrendous numbers of Japanese military and civilian deaths.

To echo other posters' sentiments on this, I think that it is unacceptable for the Japanese government to get all prissy about references to acts against them in WW2 when they still refuse to accept the well documented and incontrovertible proofs of dastardly acts perpetrated by their own forces. Germany have managed to deal with their part quite reasonably so it cannot be that difficult.

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As a human being, living in a world where suffering exists,

anyone making light of anything could be taken as offensive, both to myself and to others.

Therefore, if everyone could just shut up, break the silence only to apologise to me, then to everyone else, and then shut up again, permanently, I think we can all agree that everyone would be a lot happier.

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The comment was on being unlucky

or lucky, depending how you look on it. If you saw the actual program as I did, you would at most smile at the wry irony of fate in this man's past. In my opinion, they did not make light of the war or the bomb, they just pointed out an extremely unlikely (and unfortunate) series of events.

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Shut up yourself

Hey I take offense at you telling me to shut up. Please - you shut up. I'm waiting for my apology now.

ta :-)

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No not to me

The Japanese were already in the process of negotiating a surrender. The atomic bombs were dropped for the sole purpose of demonstrating the devastating effectiveness of this new weapon. Sparking the cold war between America and the USSR and ensured the rise of the military industrial complex later warned about by President Eisenhower. So whilst Governments in Europe were looking to improve the lives of their citizenry with free health care and social services for the poorest members of society the two super powers competed to spend it's citizens tax money on inventing fiendish way's to wipe humanity of the face of the planet.

So no not a good thing at all.

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Grenade

wtf

you're in IT with those views ?

get real - do some research

demonstrating the effectiveness - they weren't even 100% sure the damned things would go bang

I presume you do not use computers; do not use plastics; nylon; rayon; kevlar;

Free health care ? why the f do you think taxes are so sodding high; TANSTAAFL - some one pays for it - normally people who work for a living and have far better things do with their hard earned money

And I see no sign of social care coming out of Brussels - just a power grab of AXIS proportions

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Anonymous Coward

What annoys me

What annoys me isnt' that people are offended, that's fine, or even that people complained, that's up to them, what annoys me is the way people always bend over and take it with their "oo I'm so sorry... we'll never do it again" garbage.

The problem is even worse with the BBC as they don't just taking a quick shafting and then get on with business as usual, they decide that after an extended shafting, they'll go and shaft themselves by messing around with their rules, and crippling comedy on the bbc even more, I mean it's pretty much dead atm as it is.

It's why I like channel 4, someone complains and they go "live with it, see you in court"

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Big Brother

(titled)

There was no "never do it again", though...all I see is a classic non-apology "apology", saying sorry for the way other people feel rather than for their own behaviour (which is plainly not regretted). So I'd say they're pretty much guaranteed to do it again.

Reg, can we have a nice "No BBC tax" icon, please?

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Shhhh

Whatever you do please don't tell anyone about this: http://www.cracked.com/article_17416_the-7-most-bizarrely-unlucky-people-who-ever-lived.html

If it gets out the author will spend the rest of his life apologising.

Stupid complaint. Stupid apology.

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Anonymous Coward

"a stupid person's idea of a clever person"

Doesn't that describe Julie Burchill rather well?

I think Steven Fry is fairly clever and very knowledgable. At least he manages some introspection. I suspect Julie Burchill thinks the word only applies to other people...

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