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Why Japan ‘rising sun’ flag provokes Olympic ire

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Japan considers the “rising sun” flag component of its historical past. But some in the Koreas, China and other Asian countries say the flag is a reminder of Japan’s wartime atrocities, and is comparable to the Nazi swastika.

That’s why the flag has established anger at the Olympics, with some of the host nation’s neighbors contacting for it to be banned in the course of the Tokyo Game titles, which begin Friday.

There is tiny prospect that ties involving Seoul and Tokyo will boost any time quickly. But the flag dispute may possibly simplicity. Some authorities say the COVID-19 restrictions that have banned spectators at most Olympic venues stadiums may possibly stop the disagreement from growing.

Here’s a seem at the “rising sunlight” flag and the lengthy-jogging unease it has brought about in Northeast Asia.



There are two mounting sunlight flags connected with Japan, whose incredibly identify in Japanese indicates “the sun’s origin.”

One particular is the country’s national flag, referred to as “nisshoki,” or “hinomaru,” which has a purple disc on a white qualifications. Few have a issue with this.

The other 1 also has a purple disc, but it is surrounded by 16 rays that lengthen outward. Named “kyokujitsuki,” this a person has led to vehement protests from some of Japan’s neighbors.

Both of those flags have been applied for generations. But disputes about the “rising sun” flag day again to the early section of the 20th century. Which is when Japan’s imperial navy applied it as its formal flag as the country colonized the Korean Peninsula and invaded or occupied China and other Asian international locations right up until its Earth War II defeat in 1945.

It’s nevertheless Japan’s navy flag, utilised by the Maritime Self-Protection Power and, in a a bit modified version, by the Floor-Self Protection Power since 1954.

These times, extremely-rightists in Japan usually use the flag throughout rallies or on social media.



Japan’s federal government emphasizes that each growing sunlight flags use the sunlight as a motif and have been utilised across the state even ahead of the wartime period. Even currently, the mounting sun with rays flag motif is applied in day to day lifetime in Japan, these kinds of as to celebrate a big catch by fishermen, childbirth and other festivities, the governing administration says.

“An argument that it is a political statement or a image of militarism is wholly irrelevant. I believe there is a big misunderstanding,” now-Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in 2013, when he served as chief cabinet secretary.

Japan’s neighbors see it in a different way.

In 2019, South Korea formally asked for that the Intercontinental Olympic Committee ban the flag at the Tokyo Olympics. Seoul reported that the flag recalls the “scars and pain” of Asian individuals who knowledgeable Japan’s wartime armed service aggression, identical to how the swastika “reminds Europeans of the nightmare of Entire world War II.”

North Korea’s condition media, not acknowledged for understatement, have accused Japan of hoping to transform “the flag of war criminals” into a symbol of peace at the Olympics, declaring that is “an intolerable insult to our men and women and other Asian men and women.”

China is also extremely delicate to perceived slights from the Japanese government, people and firms. Nonetheless, official outrage around record has diminished fairly, although China’s political, economic and cultural rivalry with the United States and European democracies has enhanced in recent a long time. When it arrives to the flag, it is plainly considerably less sensitive in China than in South Korea.


USE AT THE Game titles

On Saturday, when South Korea taken out banners at the Olympic athletes’ village in Tokyo that the IOC ruled to be provocative, Seoul said it been given an IOC guarantee that the displaying of the “rising sun” flag would also be banned at stadiums and other Olympic venues.

But South Korean media afterwards reported that some activists carried the “rising sun” flag in close proximity to the athletes’ village. Media experiences also claimed Japan’s arranging committee ruled the flag isn’t banned within Olympic stadiums.

“It would be inappropriate to ban the flag from naval exchanges because a variation is employed by the Japanese Maritime Self-Protection Forces,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha College in Seoul, explained. “However, you would not expect the Tokyo Olympics hosts or Japanese athletes to use the increasing solar emblem because it is not the national flag.”

Ties among Seoul and Tokyo, equally U.S. allies, have suffered for years in portion since of disputes in excess of background and trade.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office declared Monday that Moon experienced decided not to visit Japan for the Olympics due to the fact the two nations around the world failed to find adequate prevalent ground to support a leaders’ summit.


WILL THIS GET Even worse?

Some authorities say the flag dispute isn’t as serious as other details of rivalry, like Japan’s wartime mobilization of Koreans into sexual slavery or pressured labor, and will not most likely worsen ties.

The flag dispute can continue to flare, on the other hand, if anger amid anti-Japan civic teams in the South attract a backlash among the the Japanese community, suggests Lee Myon-woo, deputy head of the private Sejong Institute in the vicinity of Seoul. Lee claims South Korea must refrain from a “too abnormal, political interpretation” of the flag mainly because there is no indication that Japan is reviving past militarism.

But Bong Youngshik, a investigate fellow at Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Research, says the flag would not have come to be a major issue if Japan experienced approved its neighbors’ demands for making a far more “sincere apology” more than its wartime abuse.

The dispute could not have much kindling to gasoline it, nevertheless, for a single important purpose: The lack of spectators at nearly all Olympics venues means no one is waving that flag — which indicates the dispute may possibly die down for the time being.


Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. More AP Olympics: and

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