Disney Tweets “Congratulations” On 70th Anniversary of Nagasaki

Indrani Sengupta
There's good intentions lost in translation, and then there's grievously poor timing. Disney has found a way to offer both in one astonishing misstep.

Walt Disney Japan’s official Twitter account chose August 9th of all days to tweet the following: “Congratulations on a not special day.”

Ok, let’s rewind. What? Why?

Whose idea was that?

It turns out that someone on Disney’s social media staff was simply drawing upon a well-known song from Alice in Wonderland: “A very merry unbirthday to you.” Fans of the film will recall how the people of Wonderland celebrate each day of the year (aside from their own birthday) as an “unbirthday.”

However, in Japanese, the phrase translates to “Nandemo nai hi Omedeto,” meaning “congratulations for a “not special." "nothing," or “trifling” day.” i.e. not a nice thing to say on the anniversary of a tragedy.

But the issue isn’t just that the meaning was lost in translation. Even if Disney's social media crew had tweeted “happy unbirthday to you,” such a sentiment of whimsy would be out-of-place and inappropriate on a day of remembrance of the tens of thousands of people that were killed.

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Needless to say, many people were displeased.

“Why choose today for such a tweet?”

“Today is not a no special day.”

Disney deleted the tweet and issued an apology, stressing that it would pay closer attention to the account in future.

But we’d like to see it take its public image one step further. What if Disney had acknowledged the anniversary of Nagasaki, instead of ignoring it in favor of some bland Alice in Wonderland nostalgia? What if it had tweeted in solidarity with the Japanese, in a uniquely (but appropriate) Disney way?

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