Flag seen as symbol of Japan’s past imperial aggressions by China and Korea
The organizing committee for next year’s Olympic and Paralympic games in Tokyo has announced that it won’t place any restrictions on displays of the Rising Sun Flag, a symbol of the country’s militaristic past, to be used without any restrictions, a decision that’s likely to be controversial.On Sept. 3, South Korean broadcaster SBS reported that the organizing committee had responded to an inquiry by saying there’s no reason for it to ban the Rising Sun Flag, which is widely used in Japan. According to SBS, the organizing committee explained that it doesn’t think the flag should be banned because it’s not inherently political.The Rising Sun Flag is used on a limited basis in Japan today by organizations such as the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF), but a large number of Japanese fans at the Tokyo Olympics are likely to bring it with them and wave it from the stands while cheering on Japanese athletes. That would likely provoke altercations with visitors from Korea, China, and other countries that were once invaded by imperial Japan.The Korea Paralympic Committee is currently calling for a redesign of the medals slated to be used in the Tokyo Paralympics, because they resemble the Rising Sun Flag.During the daily briefing on Tuesday, the spokesperson of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ministry would be making an effort to prevent the controversial flag from being taken into Olympic venues.“The Japanese know full well that their neighbors regard the Rising Sun Flag as a symbol of Japan’s militaristic and imperial past. Japan needs to be more humble about owning up to its historical legacy,” said Kim In-chul, the ministry spokesperson.“We plan to keep working with the relevant ministries to ensure that this matter is addressed,” Kim added.The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee plans to increase its cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. While acknowledging the difficulty of forcing Japan to ban the flag, a committee spokesperson said that the committee would be working with the Foreign Ministry and other government bodies to ensure the flag is added to the list of banned items to prevent scuffles from breaking out between Japanese and South Korean fans.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe next to the Rising Sun Flag during a Japan Self-Defense Forces exercise in Saitama Prefecture in October 2018. (Reuters/Yonhap News)