"I am a South Korean exchange student. I surprised to see the (Japanese) rising sun flag in Fnac, which gave me a very unpleasant feeling. I am sending you a photo.
"Did you know this flag was used by the military of the Empire of Japan in the Second World War? It's a symbol of Imperial Japan and among the countries of Asia stirs up feelings to the same degree as a Nazi flag does in the West. Is it possible you could take down this advertisement?"
The above, reports J-cast News (June 18), is how an unnamed South Korean female student in France objected to a poster bearing the Japanese rising sun flag. In response, the chain agreed to remove the posters.
Fnac (an abbreviation of Fédération Nationale d’Achats des Cadres, or National Shopping Federation for Managers) is a major retail chain offering books, DVDs and audio-visual equipment. It operates about 150 outlets in France, Belgium, Brazil, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
Japanese became aware of unceremonious lowering of their flag after someone claiming to be a student in France posted remarks on NATE, a community site in South Korea, on June 3, under the title "I got rid of the Japanese war-crime flag that was in a French store." The poster also remarked that after going abroad, she felt her "patriotic feelings had deepened."
"Avant" (before) and "apres" (after) photos on J-cast show a poster with an illustration with Japan's "kyokujitsu-ki" (rising sun flag) together with a manga character brandishing a Japanese sword, attached to the wall above a stack of what appears to be manga, and the same spot with the poster removed.
The store reportedly responded to the woman, saying, "We may have confirmed it in our stores, but as you can see by the attached photo, the poster has been removed. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We apologize for sending this mail before reading your previous message."
The success of the student in France seems to have triggered similar activities by Korean students in the UK, who have reportedly launched a campaign for removal of the Hinomaru national flag from a logo that appears on sushi bento (boxed meals).
A Korean female student was said to have proclaimed, "While this is a small matter, I will exert efforts to change this 'war crime flag' in the future." She called for other students in the UK to join her campaign.
Some Japanese net users have objected to direct comparisons between the Hinomaru and Nazi swastika flag. The red, white and black Nazi party flag served as the exclusive national flag of Germany from September 1935 to May 1945.
The Hinomaru, officially called the Nissho-ki (sun emblem flag), is said to date back to an imperial banner used in 701 AD, making it one of the oldest national flags in the world -- although its status was only made official by an act of the Diet in August 1999.
The flag the student in France had protested, with 16 rays emanating from the circular disc, is a military standard called "Jurokujo-Kyokujitsu-ki" (16-ray rising sun flag) or "Gunkan-ki" (naval flag). It was in use from 1870 until the end of World War 2, but re-adopted in June 1954 and is still in use today by Japan's Ground and Maritime Self-Defense Forces.
The Korean kerfuffle has not deterred Fnac from offering Hinomaru flags for sale. Its online shop lists "Drapeau Japon - 150 x 90 cm" for 9.9 Euros.© Japan Today