Japan from the inside out

All you have to do is look (53)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two screen shots from Japanese television. Here’s one:

And the other:

Efforts are underway within the South Korean government to have the “sunburst” flag of Japan banned at international venues. Their efforts began after one of their soccer players got in trouble for parading a “Dokdo is Our Land” banner around the pitch after his team defeated Japan in the bronze medal match at the London Olympics.

The program gave a brief history of the use of the symbol in Japan. The first shot explains that several similar designs were used as family crests in Kyushu during the Warring States period of the late 15th and 16th centuries and shows four examples. The explanation underneath says the families chose it because there are a lot of active volcanoes in the region and, being a southern island, the sun has a stronger presence in everyone’s awareness.

The second explains that many of the people in positions of authority during the early Meiji period were from Kyushu. They used the symbol on the crests as a reference to create military flags because it presented the image of strength from the sun and the volcanoes.

One of the factors that was an impetus for the Meiji restoration was the concern that Japan would be the next East Asian target for European colonialism.

The flag most often associated with that design is used as a Maritime Self-Defense Force flag today, and a modified design is used by the Land Self-Defense Force.

7 Responses to “All you have to do is look (53)”

  1. Harry said

    The sun worship is closely related to agriculture in Japan and several other countries. My book on family crests says that the symbol most likely represents solar radiation. I believe they know that.

    They say that the uniform of the Japanese gymnastic team conjures up the image of the symbol. I didn’t notice that…
    According to J-cast, it was designed by fashion designer Koshino Hiroko.

    IOC was somewhat critical of the Korean side (unexpectedly). It seems that they want to shift the blame onto us. Is their government so serious about this?

    H: Oh yes they are. Try this and then this. Childish.


  2. toadold said

    I’m old enough to have known and worked with a fair number of US veterans of WW II. Now some of them still had a hatred of the Japanese, but symbols didn’t trigger them all that much. I remember a guy who was a rear gunner on a US Navy torpedo bomber who explained it to me. He was angry because he was placed in situation in which he was scared to varying degrees all the time he was in the Pacific and that fear stayed with him after the war. He was scared of being shot down, he was scared of having crash or bail out over the ocean, he was scared they wouldn’t be able to find their carrier or that it would be sunk, and etc. For contrast I’ve worked with some Marines and Army infantry veterans of some of the most savage campaigns against the Japanese and they held no grudges. Some even expressed pity for them since so many died for nothing in their view point. Piece meal attacks into barbed wire and machine guns was mentioned. I remember seeing a film at a military academy of a flame thrower attack on a bunker and some poor Japanese grunt running out on fire until he was mercy killed.
    So I personally find it hard to sympathize with all the diaper babies that are crying about how rotten the Japanese where to them 80 years ago. Part of the problem is that the teaching of history has become sanitized when it comes to war. I looked at a recent history book and WW II takes up about one chapter. I’ve read the post of one S.Korean who had spent a portion of his youth in the US and he reports that S.Koreans on the whole actually don’t have all that much knowledge about the history of their country. He blames too many leftists controlling the schools.

  3. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Harry: I think Koreans’ weakness is that they are not sure about themselves. They should not be like that, but they are not sure about it again. They do not take themselves seriously, as what they deserve to be. Only my personal observation.

  4. trapped in brazil said

    Soon the radicals in Korea will want to build a huge umbrella, covering their entire country to block the Sun, because they can’t stand an Imperial Japanese symbol passing over their heads everyday…

  5. Harry said

    Although both the United States and the Republic of China were victorious, it’s hard to say that China really “won” over Japan. Naturally, the perception of the naval ensign is very different there.

    I couldn’t imagine that the gymnastic team would incite this reaction from South Korea. I also haven’t heard such a complaint from their navy during joint exercises.

    I feel that North Korea divides the left and the right and shakes the foundation of their national identity. It’s like the Korean nation still remains “half-independent” unlike Germany or Vietnam. The conservatives are worried that the progressives’ “reunification education” is too close to Pyongyang’s and too critical of the ROK. There are even Juche sympathizers. I suppose reunification is required for a normal Korea-Japan relationship.

    Here is a brief comparison of wartime memories.
    Divided Memories: History Textbooks and the Wars in Asia by Daniel Sneider (Stanford University)

  6. @Harry

    It really is a stretch to say that the China “won” the war against Japan. Yes their continued resistance made it difficult for Japan to claim victory but it was impossible for China to evict Japanese forces. Pacific War was won by America mostly with help from Britain and the USSR later on. Would also explain continued Chinese hatred of Japan, because unlike America, the Chinese did not get the chance to defeat the Japanese decisively in battle. Thats why you see some protesters demanding that now its China’s chance to defeat Japan.


    I think it depends. I don’t know any Marine/sailor/soldiers personally but a lot of the veterans accounts would differ between hatred and letting bygones be bygones. What i do know for certain from reading Eugene Sledge’s excellent account is that many Marines during the war felt immense hatred for the Japanese. Also a lot of POW accounts I read say that they can never forgive the Japanese for what they did. I guess it depends. Its not only Chinese and koreans that cling on to the past tho. Recently the Greeks are beginning to drum up memories of the German occupation in order to demand war reparations and right up to recently the Irish always had their resistance to the British as a defining feature of their national identity. The only problem imo is that the Chinese and Koreans are too close-minded and can’t seem to accept differing view points and instead ride on the bandwagon of cheap jingoism. Obviously with China being ruled by the CCP, an objective history is impossible but I expect more from a democratic society like the ROK.


    The Naval Ensign is not that controversial imo. Current JMSDF uses it so really shouldn’t be an issue. However if people were waving the flag of the Imperial Japanese Army, then that would be controversial. But then again that would be controversial in Japan itself as the JGSDF doesn’t use it due to the flag’s association with the militarism of the IJA.

    Btw i apologize for this long post
    H: I don’t mind the length.

    If you think the South Koreans aren’t trying to make the flag an international issue, you should read those two links I sent Harry. They most definitely are.

    Don’t understand why the maritime forces can use it, but the land forces can’t.

    The Land SDF version is slightly different, BTW.


  7. @A

    Then that really is ridiculous. Current JMSDF uses it and its technically a military force and there wasn’t any protest against that. This is all unnecessary imo

    Well I think the JGSDF uses a different flag as it wants to disassociate itself from anything to do with the Imperial past. The JMSDF from what I’ve read on the other hand doesn’t mind adopting some of the military traditions of the old Imperial Navy. So i guess that might explain it.

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