User submission: We received a user submitted article idea about Japan and their view on the swastika.
Hi, my name is Greg and I was wondering if you could check this out [link redacted] and tell me what you think? Are the Japanese ignorant or do we are we too arrogant?
This is an interesting question, as the link provided by our reader was a video from the YouTube channel “Asian Boss” where they show Japanese people the Nazi symbol and ask if they know the meaning behind it.
At first, I thought that this would be an open and shut case, but there is more to it.
The original swastika, also known as “Manji” which in Japanese Buddhism is an ancient and very important spiritual symbol.
It is not uncommon to see this symbol appear on maps around Japan to indicate the location of a temple.
For the summer Olympics of 2020 in Tokyo, they temporarily replace the “Manji” symbol for a “temple” symbol to please Westerners coming for the summer Olympics.
When watching the video, it is strange to see some of the replies by the Japanese youth.
“Is it a rock band logo?” one youth asks.
It seems that most of the younger Japanese have no clue what the Nazi swastika even means, some think it’s an “edgy” way of displaying the “Manji” symbol.
When one student was asked if he knew who the Nazi’s were, he replied with: “They were the bad guys, right?”
Most don’t seem to even know who the Nazi’s were, but they do know who Hitler was.
Some might even be unaware that Imperial Japan was one of the strongest allies of Nazi Germany in that time period.
When the older generation is shown the Manji and the swastika, they immediately respond with: “That one is the Manji symbol and the other one is the Nazi symbol.”
After explaining the history behind the Nazi symbol to the students, Asian Boss asks if they should stop using the Manji symbol, because of the loaded history it has in Europe.
Some of the students say that they’ll not use it around Westerners, but most of them agree that they should not and will not change the symbol, as it’s an “ancient” symbol, and they don’t let what happened in Europe, redefine the meaning of it.
“This is our symbol, and I’ll use it in a heartbeat.”
If one would walk through Germany, openly displaying the Nazi symbol, that person would be arrested.
So are Japanese people simply being ignorant?
Even after hearing what the symbol means in the West, it seems like they don’t care at all.
Nazi cosplay is something that even happens throughout Asia and not just Japan.
Are the Japanese insensitive?
As a person who has family members who lived through the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union, I can understand every side of this situation.
For me, when I see any Socialist or Communist symbol, it reminds me of what evils the Soviet Union and Communist countries around the world have committed.
Yet, it is perfectly fine in most of Europe and the West to openly fly the Soviet flag, or openly display Communist and Socialist symbols.
Germany even erected a Karl Marx statue in Trier, Germany.
Is it fair to call the Japanese “ignorant” and be outraged at the fact that they seemingly don’t care about the history behind the Nazi swastika?
Meanwhile, many European countries and even the US have S
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party seems to be openly hanging out with people who proudly fly the flags that killed over 100 million people.
The Socialists and Communists were historically seen “worse” than the Nazi’s when it comes to the number of people they killed.
One could argue that the Nazi concentration camps were so brutal, that the brutality alone is something that can’t be compared to anything.
It is true that the Soviets didn’t gas Jews, homosexuals, and disabled people on a massive scale, but they did execute Jews, homosexuals, and disabled people.
Taking a look at France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and even Italy, you will find at least one Socialist or Communist political party on the ballot.
The Netherlands erected a Che Guevara statue in the city of Utrecht last year.
So how can we be outraged at the Japanese for wanting to keep an ancient symbol that stood for peace and harmony, but at the same time be okay with Socialism and Communism in the West?
So to answer the question: “Ignorant Japanese or Arrogant Westerners?”
I would say both are correct.
Ignorant Japanese because of the fact that they simply don’t know but also don’t care about the history of the Nazi flag.
Arrogant Westerners for expecting everyone in the world to know about our past, yet not care about the past of those who have suffered under the hands of the Soviet Union, or those that suffered in Cuba, Vietnam.
Even today, many people suffer under Communist and Socialist regimes like China, Venezuela, and North Korea.
Thank you, Gregory, for sending us this submission, it was an interesting topic to explore.
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Senior writer, graphical designer.
Studied research and design in Japan for 4 years, lived in the Netherlands for 7 years to work at Endemol, Orlando is the best place.
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