A Langley school has removed a Japanese “rising sun” flag from a history classroom after a student-created online petition against it generated thousands of signatures over the weekend.
Since it went up on Saturday, the Change.org petition “Take off the Sun Rise Flag in an Educational Environment” launched by Walnut Grove Secondary School Grade 9 student B.J. Moon has so far collected 9,700 names.
Moon said he and the other students who complained about the flag were “all Koreans and descendant of a country that was colonized by Japan.”
Korea has painful memories of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War that, among other things, forced thousands of women into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army as so-called “comfort women.”
School board spokesperson Ken Hoff said the flag was being temporarily taken down to allow “further discussion” with the students who objected to its display and their parents.
“It’s a little unfortunate that this was taken out of context” Hoff said Monday.
“The flag is being actively used as a teaching tool … you can’t start editing and censoring history.”
While there have been many messages condemning the use of the flag, a lot of them are from well outside the school district, Hoff said, and the district has also received emails supporting the decision to use the flag.
Hoff said the teacher who pinned the flag to a classroom wall was a “well-respected history teacher.”
“It’s [the decision to use the flag] not coming from a place of ignorance,” Hoff said.
Moon, Hoff added, was not a student in the history class where the flag went up, but had observed it from the hallway.
Moon did not immediately respond to Black Press requests for comment on the decision to take the flag down.