Capcom re-released Street Fighter 2 to the public once again this week as part of the Capcom Arcade Stadium compilation for the Nintendo Switch, but long time fans of the franchise quickly noticed a fairly major background alteration in one of the game’s most recognizable stages: E. Honda’s bathhouse.
In the Arcade Stadium versions of both Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting and Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, the background mural of the bathhouse stage has been altered so as to remove the Japanese Rising Sun Flag, and while Capcom has not given any statements expressing why they chose to do so, we’re fairly sure we know the reason.
The traditional Japanese flag simply features a red sun amid a white background, but a rising sun version with 16 red rays extending out from the center is also very commonly seen in Japanese culture.
The Rising Sun Flag originated during the Edo period (1603-1868) and is commonly affiliated with multiple everyday life happenings in Japan including seasonal festivities, fishermen’s banners, childbirth celebration, and more. It’s also been very closely tied to Japan’s military over the centuries, and herein lies the potential problem.
This version of the flag was used heavily by the Imperial Japanese military (most specifically, the navy) during World War 2, and, as a result, is often regarded as offensive by peoples of East Asian countries. It’s also tied to Japan’s 19th Century occupation of South Korea and parts of China.
Those who take issue with it argue that the flag is a symbol which nods to numerous war crimes and oppressive actions carried out by soldiers during said occupations. Given its vast difference in significance depending on who you ask, it has been at the center of controversy for quite some time.
Traditionally in Street Fighter 2, the bathhouse’s background mural animates at the end of each round and the Rising Sun Flag portion turns from a stagnant black and white to a dynamic red and yellow that highlight the rays.
The flag has been removed entirely in the CAS versions of the SF2 titles as both the sun and the rays are absent, in their place is an empty space that turns both yellow and red upon round end.
Indeed, Capcom recreated this iconic stage for E. Honda’s 2019 induction into Street Fighter 5 and took care to include only the sun and not the rays in that version.