For my Unessay project, my goal was to expose the meaning of the Rising Sun flag while comparing it to the Nazi Swastika flag. I was interested in this topic because as South Korean, I grew up learning about the remnants of Japanese colonial period that still remains in South Korea. Also, as one of handful of Asian students who went to a private Jewish High School, comparing Nazi flag and the Rising sun flag was something that naturally provoked me a lot. The dichotomy of the two flags, how one flag is considered as a taboo and other one is merely as a ‘cool’ design, always made me feel frustrated. One thing that I wanted to gain a clear perspective on was about how German and Japan is remembering and repenting their war victims and war crimes.
Throughout my research, I learned that how each country reacted to their past is polar opposite of each other. Compared to Japan, Germany’s sincere action of penance and apology was able to show what a leader of nation can do to make up for the past mistakes their predecessors have made. For Japan, even though the action of penance and apology was all that the victims have asked for, but they have never delivered that long-overdue apology. Instead, Prime ministers of Japan have been attending the memorial service at the Yasukuni shrine on the 15th of August every year to pay respect to their war criminals and war veterans, whose remains are buried with the victims they have killed themselves during the colonial period.
As I chose the PowerPoint presentation format as a mean to deliver my Unessay project, I mainly used the photos from the WW II era and post-war era to depict the similarities that the Germany and Japan shared and how the ideas behind the flags are almost synonym for one another. For example, I thought that this photo clearly depicts the connection between the Imperialism and Nazism during the war
One main thing that I am taking away from this project is about how Japanese government is reacting to the international criticism of their denial of war crime and history. As I mentioned in my presentation, Japanese government is still trying to erase significant portions of World War history and their exploitation of colonial victims from their textbook, while denying their crimson history. I think that we learn history to learn from our own mistakes. We learn history to not repeat the nightmares that many have gone through without a reason. If no one is willing to learn from their mistakes, what future do they have?
- Mundorf, Joanne, and Guo-Ming Chen. “Transculturation of visual signs: A case analysis of the swastika.” Intercultural Communication Studies, vol. 15, no. 2, 2006, pp. 33-47. https://web.uri.edu/iaics/files/04-Joanne-Mundorf-Guo-Ming-Chen.pdf
- Taylor, Adam “Japan has a flag problem too.” The Washington Post. Published 27 June 2015 , Retrieved 26 May 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/06/27/japan-has-a-flag-problem-too/
- 82PEOPLE, “Rising Sun Flag = Swastika? Petitioning the White House for Ban of the Symbol.” Youtube. Published 28 Nov 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEwqVswreDM
- History with Hilbert, “What happened to the Old Japanese Flag?” YouTube. Published 08 Apr 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKCBG3i9z4E
- RT (Russian Today), “Seoul appeals against Japan’s ‘Rising Sun’ flag comparing it to the Nazi Swastika.” YouTube, Published 15 Sep 2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9gdizQUAk0
- YTN, “미국 역사학자 19명, 아베 비난 서명” (19 American Historians publicly criticizes Abe), YTN News, published 02.06.2015, https://www.ytn.co.kr/_ln/0104_201502060711503076
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, “Rising Sun Flag”, Foreign policy, Published 09.Nov.2019, https://www.mofa.go.jp/a_o/rp/page22e_000892.html
- Dudden, Alexis and Mizoguchi, Kozo. “Abe’s Violent Denial: Japan’s Prime Minister and the ’Comfort Women’. ”, The Asia Pacific Journal; Japan Focus Vol. 5 Issue 3, Published 01.Mar.2007. https://apjjf.org/-Alexis-Dudden/2368/article.html
- McCurry, Justin, “Osaka drops San Francisco as sister city over ‘comfort women’ statue”, The Guardian, Published 04.OCT.2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/04/osaka-drops-san-francisco-as-sister-city-over-comfort-women-statue
- Fackler, Martin, “Shinzo Abe disputes US textbook’s portrayal of ‘comfort women’.”, The Sydney Morning Herald, Published 30.Jan.2015. https://www.smh.com.au/world/shinzo-abe-disputes-us-textbooks-portrayal-of-comfort-women-20150130-131s76.html