Raising Awareness: The History of the Rising Sun Flag

Chloe Choi, Centerspread Editor

The Japanese imperial flag is widely known as a hate symbol throughout East and Southeast Asia. However, the American education system is extremely Eurocentric and doesn’t mention the various war crimes committed by the Japanese during World War II in its curriculum. 

This results in a majority of Americans being uneducated and unaware as to why using this symbol can be offensive. The rising sun symbol is a red dot with 16 red sun rays coming out of the center against a white background. 

Imperial Japan occupied various countries across Asia such as Korea, China, and Taiwan. In the colonies, the Japanese aggressively banned the use of local language, killed millions of innocent civilians, and forced thousands of women into sexual slavery. The rising sun symbol serves as a reminder of the dark period of Japanese Imperialism in Asia. 

In Japan, many view the rising sun exclusively as a nationalist symbol and continue using it despite the historical context. 

In the West there seems to be an extreme lack of education and recognition for the Japanese war crimes and imperialism period in Asian history. It is important to educate ourselves on the history behind this symbol so we can better understand other cultures and why using the rising sun symbol is offensive

The American education system is extremely Eurocentric and often doesn’t allow time for educating students about history in countries with less developed European connections. 

I’ve gone to school in the PVPUSD district my whole life and the horrible war crimes that the Japanese committed were mentioned briefly during World History AP. 

At the middle school and elementary school level, mentions of the Japanese during our WWII unit tend to be related to the Japanese internment camps in California, Pearl Harbor, and the two atomic bomb drops. 

While these events are very historically significant, I believe that our curriculum should mention the attacks that the Japanese did in Asia instead of just mentioning the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

One may argue that since WWII is a more recent historical event that is typically covered at the end of the school year and there isn’t enough time to discuss Japanese imperialism. However, since there is a large Asian community in Palos Verdes I think it would be good to add to our curriculum. 

For the past seven years there were two identical posters unintentionally bearing the rising sun symbol hanging outside the OAR for the majority of each school year. The graphic designer that made the posters had intended for the sun symbol to represent a retro beachy vibe since PVHS is next to the ocean. Many teachers, students, parents and community members walked past this poster for years without a second thought.

After mentioning the posters to the administration they agreed to take them down and have them redesigned. This is a great example of educating oneself about history and taking action to repair past mistakes.

Our school and district do promote a lot of diversity on campus through school events, but diversity should also be reflected in our school curriculum. 

The new Ethnic Studies class is a step in the right direction, however this course isn’t currently required and many high school students won’t take it because they already have a full schedule.