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Hayabusa apologises for St-Pierre Rising Sun gi
Hayabusa Fightwear, the maker of Georges St-Pierre's controversial Rising Sun gi, has apologised for any offence caused after the Korean Zombie highlighted its historical impropriety on Monday.
St-Pierre, a student of mixed martial arts and arguably the best ever welterweight to compete in the sport, wore a gi donning the Rising Sun symbol for his recent fight with Nick Diaz.
The Canadian's background is in Karate - the foundation of which is based in Japan, and he regularly wears attire that harks to his origins. However, Chan Sung Jung - better known as the Korean Zombie and a fellow UFC fighter - highlighted the symbol's history in an open letter on Monday.
"As one of many Koreans who like you as an incredible athlete, I feel like I should tell you that many Korean fans, including myself, were shocked to see you in your gi designed after the Japanese 'Rising Sun Flag'," the Zombie wrote on his Facebook page.
"For Asians, this flag is a symbol of war crimes, much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge. Did you know that? I hope not.
"Just like Nazis, the Japanese also committed atrocities under the name of 'Militarism'. You can easily learn what they've done by googling (please do), although it's only the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg.
"Furthermore, the Japanese Government never gave a sincere apology, and still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being compensated. But many westerners like to wear clothes designed after the symbol under which so many war crimes and so much tragedy happened, which is ridiculous.
"I know most of them are not militarists. I know most of them do not approve unjustified invasion, torture, massacre, etc. They're just ignorant. It's such a shame that many westerners are not aware of this tragic fact. Wearing Rising Sun outfits is as bad as wearing clothes with the Nazi mark on it, if not worse.
"Since you're influenced by Japanese martial arts, your wearing a headband designed after Japanese flag is understandable. But again, that huge Rising Sun on your gi means something else.
"Many people say GSP is the best welterweight fighter throughout history, to which I totally agree. This means you have a great influence on every single fan of yours all around the world. And I do believe your wearing the symbol of war crime is a very bad example for them, not to mention for yourself."
Gi-maker Hayabusa fashioned an immediate response to the Zombie's letter, apologising to those offended by the symbol and promising not to repeat the gi as part of its merchandise range.
Craig Clement wrote on Facebook: "Since Georges St-Pierre wore our walkout gi at UFC 158 we have received attention surrounding the negative connotation of the rising sun graphic used. The last thing we want is to offend or alienate anyone with the choice of design on our products.
"We at Hayabusa have the utmost respect for culture and history and appreciate all of our customers worldwide. As such, we accept full responsibility for this design and are taking all complaints and comments very seriously.
"The gi worn by GSP will not be brought to market. In addition, we will be very conscious of this specific design element when developing future communication materials and products. Please accept our sincerest apology for any offence this has caused."
St-Pierre himself is yet to comment on the matter, although it is not believed that he meant any offence by wearing the Rising Sun symbol.