The Rising Sun Flag – war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army - is considered offensive to many Asian fans.
I’ll be honest: Like many Westerners, I had absolutely no idea until today that the above flag is considered offensive. From seeing it displayed on t-shirts and white people’s “Japanese” tattoos, I’d become so used to seeing it that I never actually questioned what it meant. As it turns out, that flag is still considered very offensive in countries that were victims of Japanese war crimes, the same way that the Rebel Flag is offensive to many people in the United States.
So when Georges St. Pierre walked to the cage at UFC 158 wearing a gi depicting the Rising Sun Flag, I was completely indifferent towards it. I saw it as yet another tribute to Japan from the Shidokan Karate blackbelt, and thought nothing else of it.
Earlier today, UFC featherweight contender Chan Sung Jung took to his Facebook page to explain to GSP that his walkout attire was offensive to many Asian fans and urged him not to wear the design anymore. The Korean Zombie’s post makes for a very interesting read, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the history behind the flag. In his own words:
Dear Mr. Georges St. Pierre
Hi, My name is Chan Sung Jung from South Korea. As one of many Koreans who like you as an incredible athlete, I feel like I should tell you that many Korean fans, including myself, were shocked to see you in your gi designed after the Japanese ‘Rising Sun Flag’. For Asians, this flag is a symbol of war crimes, much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge. Did you know that? I hope not.
Just like Nazis, the Japanese also committed atrocities under the name of ‘Militarism’. You can easily learn what they’ve done by googling (please do), although it’s only the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg.
Furthermore, the Japanese Government never gave a sincere apology, and still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being compensated. But many westerners like to wear clothes designed after the symbol under which so many war crimes and so much tragedy happened, which is ridiculous.
I know most of them are not militarists. I know most of them do not approve unjustified invasion, torture, massacre, etc. They’re just ignorant. It’s such a shame that many westerners are not aware of this tragic fact. Wearing Rising Sun outfits is as bad as wearing clothes with the Nazi mark on it, if not worse.
Since you’re influenced by Japanese Martial Arts, your wearing a headband designed after Japanese flag is understandable. But again, that huge ‘Rising Sun’ on your Gi means something else.
Many people say GSP is the best Welterweight fighter throughout history, to which I totally agree. This means you have a great influence on every single fan of yours all around the world. And I do believe your wearing ‘the symbol of War Crime’ is a very bad example for them, not to mention for yourself.
So, what do you reckon?
Do you want to wear the same Gi next time as well?
For the record, I recommend not reading most of the follow-up comments his Facebook post generated – unless you want to feel terrible about humanity today.
It’s worth reiterating how unlikely it is that either Georges St. Pierre or the designers at Hayabusa (or One More Round, for that matter) knew that the design was offensive, so let’s not turn this into Hoelzer Reich part two. That being said, do you think Georges St. Pierre should stop wearing the Rising Sun gi, or is this a case of fans being too easily offended? Please keep it civil, guys.