[Writer's Choice] South Korea Demands the Ban of 'Rising Sun' Flag at Olympics

Jay Yim, Sept. 13, 2019, 1:30 p.m.

South Korea's sports ministry on Wednesday said that South Korea is demanding that the International Olympic Committee ban Japan from using the 'Rising Sun' flag at the Games next year. They compared it to a Nazi swastika, deeming it an offensive reminder of colonial attrocities.

Japan's official flag is a red circle on a white background. However, the flag that South Korea is objecting to is Japan's 'Rising Sun' flag, which shows a red sun with 16 extending rays. This flag has been used by Japan centuries and still uses it for their military Self-Defense Forces. The most important reason why South Korea opposed the flag is because it was the symbol used by Japan's Imperial Army and Navy during World War II, which is a painful reminder to South Koreans of Japan's rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Tokyo 2020 organizers said that "the flag itself is not considered to be a political statement, so it is not viewed as a prohibited item."

South Korea's lead committee member for sports during a conference Tuesday criticized Japan's decision to allow the flag, saying, "A flag symbolizing war is not suitable for peaceful Olympic Games. The Rising Sun flag is akin to a symbol of the devil to Asians and Koreas, just like how the swastika is a symbol of Nazis."

The South's sports ministry expressed its disappointment in Tokyo for their decision to allow the flag to be displayed at Olympic venues and once more called on the IOC to ban the flag.

Currently, relations between the two Asian countriess are at an all time low in decades. The issue of compensation for forced labor during colonial rule turned into a series of squabbles that has affected security and trade. The boycotting of Japanese goods have even occurred, along with tourism between the two countries dropping significantly.

Since 2011, South Korea's anger over the use of the Rising Sun flag has ramped up, and has been used to ignite anti-Japanese nationalism. Japan pulled out of an international fleet review which was hosted by South Korea because the 'Rising Sun' flags were not taken down from the ships.

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