Rising Sun Raises Han

Still so much post-Olympics fallout. While other countries have finished their best worst dressed lists for the international games, Korea (and others) are reacting to the “rising sun”, or Hinomaru, design featured on Japan’s gymnasts uniforms.

There are a lot of pieces to this debate. The average person outside of any conflict with Japan looks at the rising sun design and thinks of the Karate Kid’s headband. No harm done. The educated Japanese know that the design is symbolic of imperialist Japan, which has a lot to answer for. The conservative and nationalist Japanese sees the rising sun with great pride, the same way some white Southerners proudly display confederate flags in the rear windows of their pick up trucks – as a nice backdrop for their gun rack.

Then there are the people who see the rising sun as no different from the swastika of Nazi Germany. The United Nations banned the rising sun flag in 1945, but it hasn’t gone away, and for those who remember what it symbolized for a Japan at war, it’s a reminder of terrors, sadness and injustice. It has been used deliberately in the recent past to stand for Japanese domination, as it did in the not so recent past.

Speculation about whether or not the design was an intentional political statement can go on for a long time. Without the history behind the imagery, it’s just a snazzy design for a uniform in a sport full of smiles and swirly sparkly things. The world we live in doesn’t let us off the hook so easily though. We’ll see if where it leads.

1 Comment

  1. DeanS
    25 August 12, 3:03am

    This post seems to lean towards Japan bashing as it really doesn’t examine the issue objectively. 

    First off the post says “Koreans (and others)”, what others? I’ve only been able to find Koreans referenced as having an issue with the uniforms. If there are any others chances are they are just jumping on the bandwagon. 

    Second have you noticed that nobody made an issue of it til the Korean soccer player incident? The uniforms were previewed as far back as May.
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/sports/topics/AJ201205120041

    Third “Then there are the people who see the rising sun as no different from the swastika of Nazi Germany.” links to what appears a Korean site. Interesting they try to use European reaction to Nazi symbols as an example, but doesn’t seem to work well when examined closely. Also they try to make it sound like the Right wingers are representative for all Japanese. 

    “The world we live in doesn’t let us off the hook so easily though. We’ll see if where it leads.” Where it has lead us might be a better statement. If these children drawings from 2005 are any indication. http://aog.2y.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=1550
    It explains the results of this survey from 2011 where teenagers surveyed put Japan as South Koreas greatest enemy, 2nd was North Korea, 3rd was the United States(US made the top 3 in an enemies list? I thought we usually do better than that). 
    http://asiancorrespondent.com/58157/south-korean-students-rank-nations-enemies-north-korea-america-japan/

    It really seems like the extreme Right Wingers are winning, especially the South  Korean ones. 

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