The BBC has apologized for an episode of the quiz show QI last month about the "unluckiest man in the world," Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who survived both atomic bomb attacks on Japan. The jokes didn't go over so well in Japan.
The "too soon" rule doesn't really apply here, but the "never going to be appropriate" one does, especially when the jokes are coming from a country that helped defeat Japan in WW2. Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business the morning of the attack, and he was badly burned from the blast. The next day he took a train home to Nagasaki, and two days later survived the atomic bomb attack on that city. Yamaguchi only started telling his story after his son died of cancer. Yamaguchi died last year, also of cancer. As his daughter told Kyodo News, "It is a different story when [he] is treated in that way in Britain, a country that possesses nuclear weapons."
The guests attempted to steer the jokes toward the British rail system, but they didn't exactly pan out (although the crowd loved it!). "Is the glass half empty, is it half full? Either way it's radioactive. So don't drink it!" panellist Rob Brydon said.
The BBC's apology:
We are sorry for any offence caused. QI never sets out to cause offence with any of the people or subjects it covers.
"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."
Besides dressing like sex tourists on vacation in Southeast Asia (or maybe Hawaii) the guests weren't totally awful, but the jokes were certainly tasteless and out of line. We can't imagine that a Japanese game show about the Blitz would be a big hit in Britain. The worst thing about the program was the huge image of Yamaguchi between two mushroom clouds.