Navy renews call for Japan not to use controversial flag in fleet review

SEOUL, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Navy on Thursday made another call for Japan not to hoist a controversial flag, symbolic of its past imperialism, in its once-in-a-decade international fleet review next week.

The Navy has encouraged 14 participating countries, including Japan, to use their national flags and South Korea's flag, Taegeukgi. But Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Forces insists on hoisting its Rising Sun Flag during the review in waters off the southern island of Jeju on Thursday.

"Our stance that the participating countries should hoist their national flags and Taegeukgi remains unchanged," Kim Tae-ho, a senior Navy press officer, said during a press briefing.

Japan has rejected South Korean calls to keep the Rising Sun Flag at home, saying its naval ships are required by law to hoist that flag, which it said has been recognized as an indicator of the ship's country under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Amid growing public protest here, an argument has surfaced that South Korean President Moon Jae-in should receive the fleet review aboard a naval ship named after Dokdo, South Korea's easternmost islets. Japan has persistently claimed sovereignty over the islets.

Asked about the argument, Kim said, "There is nothing I know about it at this point in time."

The display of Japan's Rising Sun flag is likely to inflame public sentiment in Korea, where historical animosity over the wrongdoings of the country's onetime colonizer, still runs deep. Japan occupied the peninsula from 1910-45.

The fleet review is designed to promote harmony and world peace with the participation of naval vessels from many countries. South Korea first held the international event in 1998 to mark the 50th anniversary of its military's founding. It has since held the event every decade.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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