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SOUTH KOREA has formally asked the International Olympic Committee to ban the Japanese “rising sun” flag at next year’s Tokyo Games, calling it a symbol of Japan’s brutal wartime past and comparing it with the nazi swastika.
South Korea’s ministry of culture, sports and tourism yesterday said it sent a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach expressing “deep disappointment and concern” over Japanese plans to allow the flag in stadiums and other facilities during the 2020 Olympics.
South Korean Olympic officials last month urged the local organising committee to ban the flag, but Tokyo organisers responded by saying it was widely used in Japan, was not considered a political statement and “it is not viewed as a prohibited item.”
The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many South Koreans because of its association with Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910-45.
The ministry said in its letter to Bach, it described the flag as an unmistakable political symbol that’s embraced by Japanese right-wing protesters who vent anger towards Koreans and other foreigners. It said the flag recalls “historic scars and pain” for the people of South Korea, China and other Asian countries that experienced Japan’s wartime military aggression, similar to how the “reminds Europeans of the nightmare of World War II.”
The ministry said it also pointed out that Fifa, the governing body of world football, has banned the flag in international matches.
“Furthermore, we emphasised that the use of the rising sun flag during the Tokyo Olympics would be a direct violation of the Olympic spirit promoting world peace and love for humanity, and that the IOC should have the Tokyo organising committee withdraw its [current] stance on the flag and prepare strict measures to prevent it from being brought to stadiums,” the ministry said.
Tokyo’s Olympic organising committee didn’t immediately react to South Korea’s request to the IOC to ban the flag at the games.
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