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Seoul says no to Rising Sun flag at Tokyo Games

Sept 05,2019
The head of South Korea’s parliamentary Culture, Sports & Tourism Committee said Wednesday it was “enormously regretful” that organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics will allow spectators to bring Japan’s old imperial flag into Olympic stadiums, saying the decision fundamentally violates the spirit of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Rep. An Min-suk of the ruling Democratic Party, the committee’s head, said during a radio show on MBC that if Japan violates the IOC spirit that separates sports from politics, next year’s “Abe Olympics” will be the “most shameful event since the 1936 Nazi Olympics,” when the Summer Games were held in Berlin in Nazi Germany.

Rep. An suggested that South Korea team up with neighboring countries that came under Japanese imperial rule, such as China and North Korea, to denounce Japan on the international front. The first country Seoul should join hands, said An, is the North.

“We will first ask North Korea to band together,” the lawmaker said. “I think it would be a good opportunity for both Koreas to overcome the ongoing stalemate.”

The Rising Sun flag is a highly sensitive issue in South Korea, which sees it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression. The flag was used by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II and Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, which lasted from 1910 to 1945.

Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the IOC and Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee on Tuesday to ban the use of the flag on uniforms and on any form of cheering paraphernalia.

Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported later the same day that the organizing committee said it was not considering the ban because it does not perceive the Rising Sun flag, which is widely used all over Japan, as political propaganda.

BY CHAE HYE-SEON [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]