Clara Son/ OC School of the Arts 9th
A blaring red flag with a black swastika.
A navy red flag with navy confederate crosses.
And, finally, a white flag with red rising sun rays slashed across.
All of these flags have one thing in common: being a symbol of genocide, torture, rape, and abuse. However, the last Japanese rising sun flag is still bore widely, despite being representative of a military and imperial past.
Specifically, in World War ll, Japan violently colonized Korea, forcing Koreans to conform to Japanese ways. My own grandfather lived through this and was forced to learn to speak Japanese-- his Korean culture uprooted and treated with utmost disrespect. In fact, many Koreans were forced to change their names to Japanese names. Additionally, the Japanese burned over 200,000 Korean documents which wiped out precious Korean history, chopped down millions of Korean trees, and forced 725,000 Koreans to labor in Japan. One of the most sensitive wounds to this day is comfort women-- when Japan had millions of Korean women be forcefully dragged into military brothels to be raped, tortured, and beaten for the pleasure of Japanese soldiers.
This happened less than a century ago, with aging victims whose days remain numbered still demanding an apology. Frustratingly, Japan has not given Koreans their rightful due. Some Japanese officials continue to exhibit ignorant behavior to the suffering of the Koreans they colonized. For this reason, Korean anger towards Japan remains righteous. Clearly, Japan should give a genuine, excessive apology to Korea for the countless atrocities they committed, like Germany did after mass killing millions of Jews.
However, it seems that Japan is doing the stark opposite by continuing to proudly bear the rising sun flag-- the very flag they bore while committing these atrocities. Currently, the issue that is evidently stirring controversy is Japan wanting to bear this flag during the 2020 Olympics, the largest peace promoting event on the planet. This is as if Germany hoisted its Nazi flag during the Olympics! Clearly, Japan should clear the utter disrespect they have shown to Koreans and never bear that flag again.
Japan’s resistance to apologizing for the terror they inflicted is harming their economy and security to this day. Korea and Japan are in a heated trade war, with Tokyo’s IT Industry failing due to Korean tariffs and restrictions on screen reports and computer chips. Japan is losing their key consumer for auto parts, Japanese beer, and clothing stores such as Uniqlo due to Korean boycotts. Korea is Japan’s third largest trading partner, importing $54.2 billion worth of Japanese goods and services. Likewise, Korea exports $26.9 billion of goods and services to Japan. Evidently, Japan and Korea are both mutually dependent on each other as free-market and democratic countries and share common enemies- nuclear-armed North Korea and territorially expanding Communist China.
Ultimately, Japan and Korea must move on from their harrowing past, live amicably, and prosper together; this all starts with Japan’s official and sincere acknowledgement and apology of the atrocities done to Korea. An excellent starting point would be the complete ban of the public display of the rising sun flag, especially in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
<Clara Son/ OC School of the Arts 9th