By Ewa Nowogorski
Interestingly, Japan and America both technically have 2 very famous current flags. Both have the usual official flag that is hung up everywhere you see in public, and both also have a war flag.
Japan’s maritime flag is called the rising sun flag, and like the regular flag, it has a big red circle on it representing the sun. Unlike the normal flag, this circle is placed slightly on the right, and surrounding the circle are 16 red rays extruding from it.
America’s confederate flag is mostly red with blue diagonal stripes running through it. And on those stripes are a total of 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies of the US.
The flag was originally used by feudal warlords in Japan during the Edo period. In 1870 the Meiji government had the flag adopted as the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army, and in 1889, it was adopted as the naval ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It is actually a very controversial flag in many parts of Asia and even in its home country. In South Korea, this flag is disliked because it represents Japanese militarism and imperialism, and it reminds many of the war crimes the Japanese committed against them.
Even Japanese people are ashamed of this flag, and generally shy away from anyone who displays this flag or the state flag, as it is a sign of imperialism. Generally, this flag makes Japanese people very uncomfortable.
The American confederate flag has a similar effect on Americans in the US, although many people still see it as a symbol of Southern pride, as it is commonly displayed in public and private locations in the south. Some African Americans even see the flag as a symbol of racism. In 2011, a Pew poll found that just 9% of the country had a positive reaction to seeing the Confederate flag, while 30% had a negative one, and 58% had neither. Among those respondents who considered themselves to be Southerners, 18% had a positive reaction and 19% a negative one.
Flags and their symbolism change with time, and sometimes the flags gain such a negative association that its use has to stop altogether, save for the odd radical or two. These 2 flags may very well see the same fate as many other flags that fade into history and become a relic of the past only viewable online.