The US Sega Shop has removed for sale a hoodie featuring Tails and symbolism reminiscent of Japan’s “rising sun” flag, TSSZ has learned.
The removal, which to this point has not been accompanied by an official explanation, came after some community members criticized Sega for the use of the derivative artwork.
TSSZ has made a decision to show you the design as part of our story header and again below, with context following, to help you understand why the symbol is considered offensive to some.
The rising sun was an imperialist symbol of Japan, having been used as its national flag for centuries leading into the 20th century. The Japanese navy then used the flag during World War II, as it occupied much of Asia, and committed countless atrocities during the war.
Those of Korean descent and nationality can be especially offended by the flag’s use in everyday life and especially consumer apparel. Japan’s history with the region goes back further, as this BBC story explains:
In 1905, Japan occupied Korea as a protectorate, and five years later as a full-fledged colony.
The Japanese rule was one of economic exploitation and hundreds of thousands of Koreans were pressed into forced labour to aid the Japanese expansion in other parts of Asia.
The brutal regime also saw thousands of girls and young women forced to work in military brothels set up for Japanese soldiers before and during World War Two.
Known euphemistically as “comfort women”, they were forced into sexual slavery. Aside from Korean victims, the Japanese army also forced girls from Taiwan, China and the Philippines into the brothels.
Many South Koreans associate the rising sun flag with a long list of war crimes and oppression – and see Japan’s continued use of the symbol as emblematic of Tokyo’s failure to address its past.
The flag became a point of controversy when organizers of the now postponed 2020 Summer Olympic Games elected not to ban its use during the competition to the objection of South Korea, claiming it “is not a political statement.”
Sega has not offered an official explanation on any of its public-facing social media channels as to why the article of clothing was removed. It is not clear what will happen to anyone who purchased the hoodie before sales were suspended.
This post was originally written by the author for TSSZ News.