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Farewell Japan (movie)

Last modified: 2005-06-17 by marc pasquin
Keywords: sayonara jippon | akaoneko |
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I saw a poster for a Japanese movie that seems to contain a fictitious flag. The film is called, in English, "Goodbye Japan" (the Japanese title, written all in hiragana, appears to be "Sayonara Jippon," with the second word apparently being a phonetic transcription of the English word "Japan", in place of the Japanese Kanji normally used for the name of the country).

In the movie, a small island in the Ryukyus, called Akaoneko, declares its independence from Japan.
Bruce Tindall, 7 February 1996


by Marc Pasquin

The poster shows a map with a flag flying over the little island. The flag (drawn in outline only, so no colors are shown) contains an eight-pointed sun that looks very much like the Chinese Nationalist (Taiwan) sun, and a crescent moon underneath it (points pointing upward). I have no idea whether the "sun" device has anything to do with the island's proximity to Taiwan, or whether the "crescent" has any Muslim connection, or whether the flag is even explained in the film.
Bruce Tindall, 7 February 1996

The new country's flag is red, with a gold sun and crescent moon device in the center. The sun is similar to the sun on the Taiwan flag; the points of the moon point upwards. The sun-moon device also appears on some cars and buildings and police uniforms, sometimes in gold, sometimes in green.

The flags are of various shapes -- one is a rectangle approximately 2:3, one approx. 1:2, one an isosceles triangle, one a right triangle (the bottom edge is perpendicular to the hoist), and one an irregular shape reminiscent of that of Nepal, especially considering that it's emblazoned with a sun and a moon.

But it's not surprising that the flag wasn't standardized; the island only has a few hundred inhabitants, and they had only just declared independence and hadn't had time to enlist the help of the experts from the FLAGS list to design a proper flag!

I don't have a very good map of Japan, but I could not find an island named Akaoneko, and I assume the island is fictitious. In the film, it's supposed to be in the Okinawa prefecture.

Although the film is a comedy, it apparently has some basis in fact. A professor of Japanese from a local university gave a little talk before the film; he said that the Ryukyus (which are closer to Taiwan than any other Japanese islands) had been part of Japan for a relatively short time, formerly spoke a different language, and still feel like a "different" people. The people there, he said, often feel neglected by the central government and resent being treated as second-class citizens. (In the film, the proximate cause of the island's secession was that they didn't get help quickly after a damaging typhoon.)
Bruce Tindall, 19 February 1996