Which (Japanese) flag is it anyway?

As it is in any global crisis, there are always rumours and misconceptions and misinformed ideas circulating around the world. What with the power of internet and social media channels, it’s too easy to fall victim to ideas such as “consumption of salt can prevent radio-active waves”. The said idea has triggered a massive craze in buying salt in South East China (see a report here)

Being Chinese and coming from a family whose relatives had suffered, first hand, in Sino-Japanese conflict such as the infamous rape of Nanking (or the Nanking Massacre, c. 1937), as much as I love Japan’s culture and appreciate it as a country, I often wince at the image of seeing Japanese people waving their national flag declaring sovereignty over lost battles and decided to put history in the dark (say, the one which took place in Nanking).

That’s another discussion altogether. When the earthequake and tsunami hit Japan, the first thing that came to my mind after seeing all the images and news coverage was: JAPAN IS SUCH AN AMAZING COUNTRY.

You see people lining up, helping one another, the young supporting the old and ailing, the middle agers staying calm. At least according to the images, this a a people whose country has just suffered tremendous loss but remained calm, strong, courteous, and brave. I can’t even imagine this happening in China- I can already see those fake-ass communists fleeing their country with their WIVES and children in tow.

That’s a bit of a side note, but my point is actually regarding something else. Recently I’ve seen that lots of people on facebook or twitter have been adding “buttons” to their profile image in solidarity and support of Japan. However, I wonder how many of these people can actually tell the difference between the two flags below:

Whose flag is it anyway?

The flag on the left is the Imperial Japanese flag. The one on the right is the modern day Japanese flag.

While showing support to the country is GREAT, and I will also do so – and hopefully without presenting myself as judging anyone- keep in mind that the image of the Imperial Japanese flag is a painful image for many countries, in particular East Asian ones. It is the symbolic representation of the over-riding nationalism, torture, pain, warfare and violence which Japan imposed on the continent back in WWII.

As said earlier, my opinion is that we must stay informed at all times. Don’t subject yourself to any visual representation seen on the net as it is. Research the meaning behind, be in the know.

And in the mean time, GO JAPAN GO!

About ritapang

Twenty-something waiting for the next big thing. While waiting for money to grow on trees, I consume coffee/tea/alcoholic beverages, complain about the weather, blog about travel or think about travelling, talk about food and stare at good-looking men.
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5 Responses to Which (Japanese) flag is it anyway?

  1. Ambrose says:

    Yes, I agree about the flag.

    And yes, the orderliness amid Japan’s tragedies never ceases to amaze me too. People have been saying this shows they have good education. But two weeks ago (I think) I heard a different opinion: They have hope, hope that their problems will be taken care of no matter what. I think this is something to ponder about.

  2. Shanti says:

    I agree with you. Great clarification about the flags. I wish more people here in China shared your objective sentiment. My grandparents fled a massacre by Japanese soldiers towards Filipinos in WWII, and survived. The accounts are horrific. But, that was a dark time and I believe we must all try to move forward and not hold grudges from one generation to the next. How else will the world become a better place if while we continue to remember, we don’t let go?

  3. Kevin says:

    I have some education about Japan and WW2 and I find myself just as drawn to the conflict that ended with a Japanese victory over Russia in 1905. Hirohito was about 4 or 5 years old then and the United States mediated a very weak treaty between Japan and Russia with Japan on the losing end. Now at the end of ww2 the United States NUKES Nagasaki and Hiroshima and then Russia gets the atom bomb. I always found that kind of weird.

    Not knowing the difference between the two flags, which is why I’m here, to learn, I saw both flags and the comparison that came to mind was the flag now shows Japan as having her wings clipped. That’s just a first impression without an education. I thank you for the learning experience. I see why the difference matters.

    • ritapang says:

      Wow, I’m probably the worst blogger out there, replying to posts submitted more than 6 months past.

      The whole issue of iconography vs. history is one that is often missed; and with the power of internet we are often fed a series of images and texts which can easily sway us into thinking that that’s the plain ol’ truth.

      What bothered me the most the other day is that I saw a photo on a local paper of the Japanese Navy in the South China Sea, openly brandishing the Imperial flag. Definitely a “hmm” right there.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kevin!

  4. Phil Hartman says:

    I’ve been living in South Korea for the past seven years and I have to deal with Japanese hatred on a daily basis. While it is clearly true that atrocities were committed during WW2, the unquestionable hatred the Koreans have for the Japanese in general is ignorant in its own right. Pitting one country against another will always be an exercise in futility. I often ask my students, how can you hate 120 million people you never met? Countries aren’t simple, clean boxes. You will find good, evil, ignorance, and apathy in all countries. It’s so good that you aren’t letting yourself be caught up in the herd-mentality. You see that Japan can be many things simultaneously.

    P.S. Not stalking you, just googled your name and bam! Here I am.

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