Two Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) were suspended by their employers on Sunday after mentioning Taiwan and showing the national flag during a livestream, stoking controversy that was inflamed further when it was discovered that their management company issued distinct apologies in Japanese and Mandarin.
While reading YouTube analytics over livestream on Thursday and Friday last week, Hololive VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato named Taiwan as contributing a high percentage of viewers.
Users on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili were quick to criticize the two and report their accounts, prompting Hololive’s parent company, Cover Corp, to suspend the streamers for three weeks until Oct. 19.
Photo: screengrab from YouTube
In its Japanese statement, which was also translated into English, Cover cited “divulging confidential YouTube channel analytics information” and “using said data for their own purposes” as reasons for the suspensions, in addition to making statements “that were insensitive to residents of certain regions.”
It also vowed to improve “compliance training” for its talent, although it added that it did not find either to have acted deliberately.
The firm posted a separate statement in simplified Chinese on Hololive’s Bilibili channel in addition to a translation of the original statement apologizing for its “incorrect content” and adding that the incident does not reflect the views of the company.
“Cover has always respected Chinese sovereignty and territory ... and resolutely supports the one China principle,” the statement said.
The absence of “one China” from the Japanese version did not escape the attention of Chinese Internet users, who have left more than 1.8 million comments on the two statements and are calling for a boycott of the company’s other channels.
Cover’s suspension of the entertainers angered other netizens, who denounced the company via comments and memes.
“So you really want to give up the rest of the world for China’s 0.02 percent market share? That’s just absurd,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Some threads discussing the incident on the official r/Hololive subreddit were removed, drawing more anger from fans.
The videos have been taken down from YouTube and Bilibili.
Hololive is one of the biggest agencies specializing in VTubers, or streamers who adopt a character persona and use an animated avatar instead of a video feed.
The company in November last year opened an account on Bilibili, where it has more than 4 million fans, Hololive said.
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