Ryo Chonan responds to Chan Sung Jung's open letter

Esther Lin/MMAFighting

Former Pride FC star Ryo Chonan has some choice words for Chan Sung Jung and those offended by the image of the rising sun.

As most of us can still remember, Chan Sung Jung wrote a forceful, well-reasoned open letter last week about the image of the "Rising Sun" displayed on Georges St. Pierre's walkout gi. He spoke of what that image means to many Koreans, and others who suffered under Japanese imperialism and why he hoped that GSP would remove the emblem. Surprisingly, he got results.

The manufacturer, Hayabusa, pulled the gi from shelves and responded directly to Jung with an open apology and a promise to halt their use of the image. Even GSP put out an apology; overall a win for common decency. But not everyone is pleased...

Yesterday Ryo Chonan released the following comment to Samurai Life:

"All the people complaining about the Rising Sun flag is an idiot. Learn history! Even though that might be too much for you idiots."

I don’t care about the comfort women (girls and women essentially held captive in a life of enforced prostitution in the Imperial Japanese Army), go make more statues in Korea. Japan is too busy."

There is a lot of exaggerations and anti-Japanese education in regards to Japanese involvement in World War II."

Japan actually helped Korea and made it a developed country. Also when Japan was there Korea was not divided between North and South."

For those wondering about the history of comfort women, I would recommend this essay, as it does an excellent job chronicling the struggle for recognition that this chapter in history continues to undergo. Most notably a struggle against nationalist factions who feel that the evidence of human trafficking, and sexual coercion lacks evidence of state sanctioning. Here are a couple of excerpts.

On the history of comfort women:

In recent years, historical research has uncovered more disturbing details about the comfort women system. Scholars estimate that between fifty thousand and two hundred thousand women were enslaved to provide sexual service to Japanese officers and soldiers. The majority of these women were Korean and Chinese, and they included a large number of minors. Many of them were rounded up by deception or under conditions of debt slavery, and some were violently abducted. Although prostitution for military personnel in war zones and occupied territories is fairly common in history, Japan's comfort women system differed from other cases in that most of the women experienced extreme forms of coercion and oppression. In addition, state and military authorities at the highest levels were involved in its establishment and maintenance.

And its modern implications:

One of the results of both the Japanese government's apologies and of recent scholarship on comfort women has been resistance and backlash from right-wing nationalist groups. In particular, nationalists have objected strongly to both the government's admission of state involvement in the matter and to the inclusion of the issue in school textbooks. They have attacked politicians who support the government's apologies as well as historians' findings about comfort women. They have also targeted contradictions within the testimonies of comfort women themselves in an effort to discredit their accounts entirely.

Chonan's feelings are by no means isolated to him alone, but they show an intensely dismissive attitude towards the suffering of others. And his directive that Korea can "make more statues" to mourn their victims, because Japan is "too busy," is exactly the sort of message that Jung is hoping to counteract.

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