By reading what she wrote on The Gardian, I assume Ms. Dudden associates the American Confederate Flag with the Civil War and slavery. That is understandable. A lot of Americans, especially African Americans, might agree with her. Although most current Americans have not lived through those years of slavery or the Civil War, they have seen White Supremacists like KKK's David Duke proudly showing off the flag. It's not hard for anyone to associate the Confederate flag to a dark era of American history.
However, what many American Southerners associate with the flag are different. They argue the flag means more than the Civil War or the slavery and that in fact represents Southern heritage and their beloved culture. The fact is, there is no consensus of how Americans should interpret the flag or what it represents. There is no clearly right or wrong interpretation of the flag.
Even though there is no consensus about what the Confederate flag really means among Americans, Ms. Dudden argues the Rising Sun flag of Japan should be banned from the Olympic stadiums jjust as the Confederate flag is inappropriate for that event. She then tries to clarify the reasons of her thinking: "It (the Rising Sun flag) is technically a military flag."
Now, let's assume her assertion is true: "Although sometimes used for other purposes, the Rising Sun flag is technically a military flag." But is that a sufficient reason to ban a flag? If so, give me a flag that has not been used by its country's military. Is there any? America's Star Spangled Banner? The Union Jack? Flag of China? South Korea's Taegukgi? Is she willing to make the same argument that those flags should be also banned because they were used by their military? No. She is only making her assertion against Japan's Rising Sun flag.
As Ms. Dudden states, the Rising Sun flag has been used by the Japanese Navy. However, the use of the flag and its design have an even longer history than the use by the Imperial Japanese Navy or Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force. The familiar flag and the design of the red with 16 red rays meant "Good Luck," "Congratulations," or "Big Catch." It is also an undeniable fact that the flag has been used by some of Japan's right-wing-extremists who wish to demonstrate their anti-Korea sentiment. Ms. Dudden is absolutely right to point that out. However, there is no consensus among Japanese citizens about what the Rising Sun and its design should represent, just as there is none among Americans on the Confederate flag. Just as she cannot enforce what she believes about what the Confederate flag should mean on her fellow Americans, she cannot enforce her interpretations of the Rising Sun flag should mean to on the Japanese.
To be clear, I am not suggesting at all that the flag should be brought to the Olympic stadiums. I believe that is inappropriate or even repulsive, especially if the flag is brought by anti-Korea right wingers. Sadly, the reputation of the flag is significantly damaged by those hateful anti-Korea demonstrators. However, I do not agree with Ms. Dudden's hasty and simplistic solution to the ideas with which she disagrees. By calling for the IOC to ban the flag, she is seeking for the silence of different ideas.
Ms. Dudden also displays her massive ignorance of the war time era. I have a difficult time believing she is a serious historian and not simply a political activist who uses history as a tool for politics. As she attempts to explain why South Koreans are raising objections to the flag, she, for some reason, includes Koreans among American, Chinese, Filipino, Australian and British PoWs who were "enslaved and imprisoned." Does she not know that many Koreans were PoW camp guards who were in charge of the Allied soldiers?
She argues that the treatment of the POW by the Japanese military was brutal, and that is true. However, Koreans should not be counted among suffering PoWs since they were the remembered by Allied POWs as more violent guards than the Japanese guards. According to "Prisoners of War and Their Captors in World War II" by Bob Moore and Kent Fedorowich, what Allied POWs commonly complained about was that the Japanese officers and NCOs did not control their subordinates. This was particularly true of the lowest form of life in the Japanese hierarchy, the Korean guards, who were despised by the Japanese themselves and hated and feared by the POWs." It is well documented that the Allied POWs remember Koreans and Taiwanese to be the worst guards. In fact, according to Telegraph's report, British survivors remember Korean and Taiwanese guards to be the worst tormentors, and one of the survivors has "expressed 'disgust' toward a campaign by a group of auxiliary troops from Korea and Taiwan who were convicted of war crimes to have their names cleaned and to receive compensation."
The Japanese guards were bad, but the Koreans and the Formosans were the worst," he told The Telegraph from his home in Stockport. "These were men who the Japanese looked down on as colonials, so they needed to show they were as good as the Japanese," he said. "And they had no-one else to take it out on other than us POWs." Now 94, Lane was sent to work on the "Death Railway," which was designed to run from Thailand to the Indian border and to serve as the Japanese invasion route. An estimated 12,400 Allied POWs and some 90,000 Asian labourers died during the construction of the 258-mile track. "After my capture, I witnessed many atrocities - murders, executions, beatings and instances of sadistic torture - and I was on the receiving end myself on a number of occasions," he said."I was also one of a handful of buglers in the camps and played my bugle at thousands of burials for the victims of the 'sons of heaven'," he added. "That's why I have no sympathy for this group's claims," he added. "These men volunteered and they all knew exactly what they were doing. And they mistreated us because they wanted to please their masters and knew they could get away with it. "They joined up for kicks, when Japan was winning the war, and they took advantage of that for their own enjoyment," Lane said. "They won't get an apology or compensation from the Japanese government," he added. "I think a more fitting result would be to have then taken out and whipped for what they did to us."
Please. Do not use the suffering of the Allied POWs to make a case for Korea's victimhood. That is one of the most repulsive arguments made by a historian. She should know better.