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Japanese VTubers banned for mentioning Taiwan during livestream

Japanese VTubers suspended for 'making statements insensitive to certain nationalities'

Akai Haato announcing viewership in Taiwan. (YouTube screenshot)

Akai Haato announcing viewership in Taiwan. (YouTube screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two popular Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) have been suspended for three weeks for mentioning Taiwan during their livestream, angering Japanese gamers, while failing to satisfy Chinese netizens.

During their most recent livestreams, Hololive Japanese VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato announced the countries where they have received the most followers based on YouTube analytics. One of the countries that they highlighted was Taiwan because it accounted for seven percent of viewers and they displayed the flag of Taiwan to represent the nation.

However, the comments section video was soon inundated by complaints from alleged "Chinese netizens" who railed against the VTubers for implying that Taiwan is a country that is independent from China. In response, Cover Corp, the Japanese owner of Hololive, on Sept. 27 issued a statement in which it said it was suspending the two VTubers from live broadcasts from Sept. 28 to Oct. 19 of this year for "divulging confidential YouTube channel analytics information" during their livestreams.

Japanese VTubers banned for mentioning Taiwan during livestream
Kiryu Coco (left), Akai Haato (right). (Wikimedia Commons,

However, Niche Gamer cited many fans as saying that the VTubers have mentioned viewer analytics before in the past and suspect that the real reason is that they mentioned Taiwan. Indeed, the Cover Corp. statement also chastized the streamers for making "statements that were insensitive to residents of certain regions."

The rationale for Cover Corp.'s punishment of the Japanese broadcasters was made more clear on a Chinese-language statement issued on the Chinese video-sharing site Bilibili. The statement emphasized that Cover "respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity ... and firmly supports the one-China principle."

It then pledged that it would further "strengthen the education and management" of its artists and improve its system to prevent "such problems" from happening again. Unfortunately for Cover, the post did not have the desired effect, as angry Chinese netizens posted over 16,000 messages demanding the VTubers be fired from Holoive and Cover exit the China market immediately.

Japanese VTubers banned for mentioning Taiwan during livestream
Chinese statement Cover Corp. posted on Bilibili. (Bilibili screenshot)

Japanese gamers, on the other hand, were incensed at what they saw as Hololive's kowtowing to China. One popular meme that circulated on Twitter shows a man in a business suit with the label "hololive production" prostrating himself before another businessman who is standing and has the flag of China superimposed over his upper body.

Japanese VTubers banned for mentioning Taiwan during livestream

Meme mocking hololive for kowtowing to China. (Twitter meme)

In response, Thai VTuber expressed his opinion that Taiwan is a separate country from China and that the Japanese VTubers had done nothing wrong:

Anime enthusiast Hero Hei gives his take on the incident:

Kiryu Coco apologizing for lack of consideration when streaming. She promised to properly address the situation and strive to improve as a VTuber in the future.

In announcing her suspension on Twitter on Sept. 27, Haato apologized for the inconvenience caused by her "carelessness" and pledged to be careful not to make "inadvertent remarks" in the future. She promised her fans that she "would definitely come back.