An Open Letter to Emmanuel Macron on the Japanese Rising Sun Flag on Bastille Day

The Hon. Emmanuel Macron
President of France

Palais de l’Élysée
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris
France

Re: The Display of the Japanese Rising Sun Flag on Bastille Day, 2018.

Mr. President,

It was to our great astonishment, consternation, and shock that we perceived the Japanese Self Defense Forces display the Rising Sun Flag in front of the gathered crowds during the military parade on Bastille Day, 2018.

Not since the Nazis paraded the Swastika on June 14th, 1940 has there been such a sight on the Champs Elysées.

As you know, the Rising Sun banner is the war flag of the Japanese Imperial Military and the global symbol of Japanese Imperial Terror from 1894-1945. This is the emblem of the military empire that murdered, tortured, enslaved, raped and terrorized their way through Asia and the Pacific, brutally invading and subjugating entire countries and peoples, while perpetrating innumerable crimes of aggression, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The leaders of the Japanese Military High Command, representing command responsibility for the Japanese military, were ultimately found guilty and hanged for these crimes.

Article R 645-1 of the French Criminal Code, rightly prohibits “the public exhibition or wearing of such insignia, symbols/emblems, uniforms that recall those used by…organizations…or persons found guilty of one or multiple crimes against humanity by…a [competent] international tribunal”.

We also remind you of the ineffaceable, irrevocable, inviolable right to redress (“imprescriptibilité“) regarding crimes against humanity, codified in French Law (Law No 64-1326, December 26th, 1964).

We further draw your attention to the fact that these leaders were found guilty of multiple Crimes Against Humanity in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, convened on April 29th, 1946.

We therefore assert that the members of the Japanese contingent parading the Rising Sun were in clear violation of R 645-1.

We request that they be charged and prosecuted according to the law.

Technically, on their own soil, the Japanese SDF are allowed fly the Rising Sun, due to a 1955 accommodation arising from the US SCAP designs of cold war geopolitics.  However, it staggers the imagination and shocks the conscience that Republican France—to whom we ascribe higher ethical standards and a demonstrated history of banning symbols and actions like this–would, within the heart of the French Metropole, on the very occasion of its commemoration of opposition to Absolutism and celebration of Universal Human Rights, permit the display and flaunting of a flag that represents the worst excesses of Imperialist Absolutism, unmitigated human rights atrocities, and genocidal and femicidal violations of international law.

We refuse to believe that French standards of governmentality, morality, decency, and common sense allow the public flaunting of the Rising Sun.

We refuse to believe that France allows the symbolic legitimation and normalization of Japanese Imperial Militarism with its long, unimaginable train of irrefragable, but unacknowledged, unatoned-for atrocities.

We refuse to believe that a public holiday also constitutes a moral holiday, where the historical oppressor is dispensed legal exemption to parade violent, traumatic, racist symbology at the cost, shock, and mortification of all its survivors and victims.

We live currently in chaotic, troubled, and morally unsettling times.  Symbols have power: the power to incite or to calm, to divide or bring reconciliation, to heal or to harm.  The inflammatory public display of the Rising Sun is a symbol of everything that is harmful, divisive, violent, and destructive of human decency, morality, society, and peace.

We urge you to consider our concerns and request prompt and rapid action and redress.

With Deepest Respect,

Comfort Women Justice Coalition (CWJC)

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