On the morning of Saturday, November 14, many Japanese Beliebers, along with some Non-Beliebers and Agnobiebers, awoke and checked into Twitter as usual only to find the famous Canadian pop star declaring that he was praying for their souls right alongside those of the people of Paris.
Confused and a little concerned, I—a card-carrying Agnobeiber—showed the above tweet to my coworkers, all of whom were equally baffled as to why Justin Bieber should be praying for them, considering nothing out of the ordinary happened here in Japan.
Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) November 14, 2015
Justin Bieber took some time out from a live show last Friday to offer up his thoughts and prayers for those who had lost their lives during the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris. However, as far as the video below shows, he doesn’t make reference any specific place.
crowd goals (@crowdgoals) November 14, 2015
Here’s what netizens in Japan had to say about the tweet.
“What happened? Only bad news I’ve heard today was that baseball’s ratings are losing out to soccer.”
“What does Justin know?!”
“Can he see the future?!”
“I don’t know why, but prayers are always good. Thanks, Justin!”
Some commenters eventually figured out that he was referring to an earthquake that took place off the coast of Kyushu that day which had triggered tsunami warnings in the area. The quake hadn’t actually registered as major news in Japan because, well, this happens an awful lot. Pretty much every time I turn on the TV, in fact, it seems there’s a tsunami warning somewhere in the country—many of which are simply cautionary, others are followed by comparatively small waves that, thankfully, do little-to-no damage.
Despite this, somehow word got out that 18,000 people had died in said earthquake, when in reality more people died from high blood pressure than earthquakes in Japan on that day.
SUDDOTH 1⚽ (@suddoth1) November 14, 2015
Thanks to that massively incorrect death toll, we can actually figure out what happened here. During the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, roughly 18,000 people died or went missing. Also, during that time the hashtag #PrayForJapan was widely used to show support.
After the horrors in Paris and Beirut occurred, similar hashtags #PrayForParis and #PrayForBeirut along with #PrayForBaghdad and #PrayForMexico for another terrorist attack and hurricane, respectively, started to be used. It would seem somewhere along the way someone mixed up the old #PrayForJapan tweets from 2011 with the recent zero-casualty quake.
Umair Solangi (@iUmairSolangi) November 14, 2015
Partly fueled by some Friday the 13th fervor, the speed at which the information spread was hard to curb, despite some people’s efforts.
I'm Japanese, we often have 7.0 scaled earthquake, most of us don't care so much usually, no one is talking about that in JP 😞 #PrayForJapan—
ボンベイボム×ジャングルテラー (@soinlove) November 14, 2015
Too Sassy (@AdorableWords) November 14, 2015
This is awkward but no need for #PrayForJapan... Nobody is dead. No damage. Social network is a scary place. So many misinformation.—
meg (@megmeg203) November 14, 2015
Even the following day, graphics with Japan alongside countries such as France and Lebanon went out. Even as of this writing prayers are still being tweeted.
best of marvel! (@thebestofmarvel) November 14, 2015
O-scar ♈️ (@SkNota98) November 15, 2015
In conclusion we’d like to reiterate that nothing unusually bad happened in Japan recently but the prayers are appreciated. After all, given the state of things perhaps everyone everywhere could use a little prayer action sent their way. I think the philosopher M.C. Hammer said it best: “We need to pray just to make it today. That’s word, we pray.”