On Sunday, UFC featherweight Chan Sung Jung aka "The Korean Zombie" released a public letter addressed to welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and his use of the Rising Sun symbol of Japan on his gi worn before he fights.
Jung, who is a native of South Korea, spoke out via his Facebook page about the use of the symbol when addressing St-Pierre publicly.
Dear Mr. Georges St. Pierre
Hi, My name is Chan Sung Jung from South Korea. As one of many Koreans who like you as an incredible athlete, I feel like I should tell you that many Korean fans, including myself, were shocked to see you in your gi designed after the Japanese 'Rising Sun Flag'. For Asians, this flag is a symbol of war crimes, much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge. Did you know that? I hope not.
Just like Nazis, the Japanese also committed atrocities under the name of 'Militarism'. You can easily learn what they've done by googling (please do), although it's only the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg.
Furthermore, the Japanese Government never gave a sincere apology, and still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being compensated. But many westerners like to wear clothes designed after the symbol under which so many war crimes and so much tragedy happened, which is ridiculous.
I know most of them are not militarists. I know most of them do not approve unjustified invasion, torture, massacre, etc. They're just ignorant. It's such a shame that many westerners are not aware of this tragic fact. Wearing Rising Sun outfits is as bad as wearing clothes with the Nazi mark on it, if not worse.
Since you're influenced by Japanese Martial Arts, your wearing a headband designed after Japanese flag is understandable. But again, that huge 'Rising Sun' on your gi means something else.
Many people say GSP is the best Welterweight fighter throughout history, to which I totally agree. This means you have a great influence on every single fan of yours all around the world. And I do believe your wearing 'the symbol of War Crime' is a very bad example for them, not to mention for yourself.
The Japanese Rising Sun flag was used primarily by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and during their conquest of East Asia during the war in the Pacific. The United Nations banned the symbol after Japan was defeated in 1945 during World War II.
Since that time, Japan has begun using the symbol again with their Self-Defense Force that was established in 1954, but many countries still view the flag as highly offensive because of its association with Japan during those times of war and occupation.
On Monday just a day after Jung's passionate letter was released, the makers of St-Pierre's gi uniform responded and said they will no longer produce the product for public consumption.
Craig Clement, the co-president of Hayabusa Fightwear, responded on Facebook to apologize to any that were offended by the use of the Rising Sun symbol by his company.
Since Georges St-Pierre wore our walkout gi at UFC 158 we have received attention surrounding the negative connotation of the rising sun graphic used. The last thing we want is to offend or alienate anyone with the choice of design on our products.
We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history and appreciate all of our customers worldwide. As such, we accept full responsibility for this design and are taking all complaints and comments very seriously.
The gi worn by GSP will not be brought to market. In addition, we will be very conscious of this specific design element when developing future communication materials and products.
Please accept our sincerest apology for any offense this has caused.
Jung's initial post didn't appear to take any personal issue with St-Pierre on the subject matter, but obviously was meant in a way to educate the Canadian on the controversial nature of the symbolism he was using.
Over the years, St-Pierre has routinely worn a traditional Gi to the cage as he prepares for his bout. Since his sponsorship with Hayabusa, they had produced a new Gi that he wore to the Octagon when he faced Diaz at UFC 158. It appears that will be the last time he will wear that particular design however after this latest controversy.
The Rising Sun symbol has run into controversy on several other occasions at major sporting events in the past as well.
The Japanese Rising Sun flag caused a similar stir at the 2012 Olympic games when a South Korean soccer player brought up the fact that some of the uniforms being worn by Japanese competitors were marked with the familiar symbol.
Japanese fans were also warned in 2008 when the Olympics were held in Beijing that the flag could stir controversy due to its wartime heritage. Many major companies and brands still use the recognizable symbol in Japan to this day.
St-Pierre is currently on vacation following his win over Diaz and has yet to make any kind of public statement about the use of the symbol on his Gi or the letter from Jung.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report
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