Do you know] why the flag of Ukraine is blue and yellow? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Do you know] why the flag of Ukraine is blue and yellow?

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There is a movement, especially in the sports world, to raise the Ukrainian flag and express solidarity (AFLO)

Ukraine is located between Russia and Western Europe. There are still many things about this country, which has not been of great interest to the Japanese, that they do not know.

One of them is the meaning of the Ukrainian flag. The Ukrainian flag has a simple structure. The upper half is blue and the lower half is yellow. Just as the Japanese “Hinomaru,” a red circle on a white background, represents the sun, the symbolic colors of this flag have a meaning.

In fact, the blue part is the sky. It means blue sky. And the yellow is wheat.

As soon as I learned this, an image of vast wheat fields and a blue sky spread across my mind. Although only those who have seen the movie “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” may understand this image, it reminded me of the last scene of the movie “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” in which Nausicaa is on the golden threads that the king bugs produce.

Why sky and wheat? It becomes clear when you look at the geography and history of Ukraine.

The ancestors of many Ukrainians are East Slavs. They lived an agriculture-centered life in Ukraine. And all along, Ukraine was a prosperous agricultural country, and although the Russian Empire took over at the end of the 18th century and industrialized the country, Ukraine’s agribusiness for export purposes flourished, creating a large granary that has been called the “breadbasket of Europe”.

(Yuji Kurokawa, “The History of Ukraine: The Last Great Power of Europe”).

The production of “vodka,” made from corn, also became famous.

When Ukraine came under Soviet rule, famine struck the “breadbasket of Europe. The civil war and the failure of the Communist Party’s “collectivization of agriculture” caused production to drop drastically, but without regard to this, the Communists forcibly sent Ukrainian food to the Russian mainland. The resulting famine killed about 1 million people.

In 1932, during the Stalin era, the Soviet Union’s harsh rule intensified and Ukraine was ravaged by the “Holodomor” famine. It is said that 3.5 million people starved to death in Ukraine as a result of the Holodomor (some say as many as 5 million if one includes the decline in the population, including the decline in the birth rate).

Now, critics in Japan are telling Ukrainians to surrender to Putin immediately because their lives are important, but they must have learned from history that more terrible things await them if they do so. Without knowing this, it would be difficult to understand the desperate resistance of the Ukrainians in a situation where there is a desperate gap in strength with the Russian army and NATO is unable to help them.

Ukraine became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and Article 20 of the Ukrainian Constitution stipulates that the national flag shall be a blue and yellow flag. It is generally interpreted as “sky and wheat,” but others believe it shows “water and fire” or “sky and sunflowers.”

According to the Ukrainian State Statistics Service in 2020, grain was the largest export, at 19.1%, and the area of arable land was about the same size as the entire area of Japan, twice as large as the arable land of France, an agricultural country.

Beautiful sky and beautiful wheat fields. Ukraine is a country made up of these things. If Ukraine loses even one of these things, it will be destroyed by Russia once again. We hope that peace will return to the “breadbasket of Europe” as soon as possible.

  • Interview and text Kenichi Ogura

    Director, ITOMOS Research Institute

  • Photo AFLO

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