Monday, 17 December, 2018

Japan Withdraws from Naval Event After South Korea Protests Rising Sun Flag

South Korea's attempts not likely to succeed Japan to skip South Korea fleet event over ‘rising sun’ flag
Kenny Thornton | 07 October, 2018, 22:42

Japan informed South Korea on Friday of its decision to not join an worldwide naval event next week amid a dispute over its plan to fly the Rising Sun flag, a government source said.

The South Korean government "has conveyed through various channels on the need to positively consider the national sentiment on this issue and have exchanged opinions with the Japanese side", the South Korean navy said in a statement yesterday.

"When it comes to the Maritime Self-Defence Force ensign, domestic laws and regulations stipulate that it must be hoisted at the stern", Iwaya said.

But in South Korea, the flag is a symbol of Japan's military aggression during World War II and a bitter reminder of the country's 1910-45 colonial rule over the peninsula. "Regrettably, we have reached a decision that we can not help forgoing the participation". "The "Rising Sun" flag is a war-crime flag that the 20th-century Japanese imperialists used when executing their barbaric invasions into our nation and other Asian nations".

South Korea's navy on Thursday denied a local report that it was considering having President Moon Jae-in board a South Korean warship named after the disputed eastern islets of Dokdo during the fleet review in hopes of nudging Japan to voluntarily withdraw from the event.

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Earlier this week, Japan's Defense Minister said the Rising Sun flag will be raised during the fleet review, in his words, "as a matter of course". After experts failed to propose another alternative, then Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida chose to use the rising sun, saying it was already world famous, according to the defense ministry.

"Members take pride in the ensign, and we will never go there with the flag unhoisted".

Japan is a key player in United States-led efforts to isolate and punish North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Tokyo has dismissed the request, arguing that it is mandatory to fly the "rising sun" flag under Japanese law. The rocks are occupied by South Korea but are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.

Announcing Japan's decision not to participate in the fleet review, Iwaya said that defense cooperation between Tokyo and Seoul remains extremely important.

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