The South Korean sports ministry on Wednesday September 11th said it had officially demanded that Japan’s “Rising Sun” flag be banned at next year’s games, considering it to be a symbol of Japan’s imperialist past.
In a letter sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Seoul’s sports ministry expressed its “disappointment” as Japan’s organising committee decided to allow the display of the flag at Olympic venues, saying it contradicted the peaceful spirit of the Olympics.
The Rising Sun flag, originally Japan’s naval ensign, and then adopted as the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army, reminds Asian nations of “historic wounds and pains,” the ministry added.
The IOC on Wednesday confirmed receiving the letter. An IOC official said the IOC had “said from the outset of this discussion, sports stadiums should be free of any political demonstration.
"When concerns arise at Games time, we look at them on a case by case basis.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has denied that Tokyo’s Olympic organisers meant to express any political act by using this flag, saying that it is widely used in the country.
Tensions have escalated between Japan and South Korea, when Japan decided in July to impose restrictions on exports from its Asian neighbour. South Korea says the move is retaliatory following a South Korean court ruling last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korea for forced labour during its occupation by Japan.
In August, Japan removed South Korea from its ‘white list’ of trusted trading partners. Later in the same month, Seoul decided to scrap an intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo.