The Harry Potter franchise’s Draco Malfoy isn’t particularly worried about whether or not he hurts someone’s feelings, what with all his involvement with evil cults and attempted homicide. The actor who portrays him in the film series, however, Tom Felton, appears to be far more sensitive to the concerns of others.
On March 9, the British-born Felton sent out a tweet to issue an apology in relation to a now-deleted video he’d posted to his Instagram account.
Felton’s tweet mentions a T-shirt he wore in the video, and while no specific description is given in the apology, the comment thread makes it pretty clear that it’s the Japanese Rising Sun Flag shirt that the actor can be seen wearing in the screen capture (top) posted by another Twitter user.
From there, it’s not hard to imagine what sort of offense Felton is apologizing for possibly causing. The Rising Sun Flag’s use goes back to at least the late 1800s, as this 1882 painting of a government office in Tokyo shows.
However, the flag was also prominently flown by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy, both during Japan’s expansionist invasions of other Asian nations in the years preceding World War II and throughout the global conflict. As such, the Rising Sun Flag is seen as a symbol of bellicose Japanese nationalism by many people in Korea, China, and southeast Asia.
Complicating the matter is that the Rising Sun Flag was not exclusively for use by the Japanese military, and variants remain in use today by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. The Rising Sun Flag can also be seen being waved by some Japanese fans at sporting events, perhaps because its outstretched rays provide more of an atmosphere of dynamic fighting spirit than the plain Japanese flag version.
However, even within Japan the Rising Sun Flag can be divisive, such as in the incident last fall when a middle-school teacher was reprimanded for using an image of it for an attempt to amp up his students’ academic passions. Felton, too, seems to have reached the conclusion that it’s an inappropriate choice for a T-shirt, and so it’s likely that along with removing the video from his Instagram account, he’s now removed the shirt from his wardrobe.
Source: Twitter/@TomFelton via Hachima Kiko
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