S. Korean Navy stands firm in opposition to Japan’s wartime flag at naval event

SEOUL, Sept. 30 (Yonhap) -- The Navy said Sunday it remains in opposition to a Japanese warship carrying a controversial imperialistic flag to an international naval event in South Korea next month.

The southern island of Jeju will stage the International Fleet Review from Oct. 10-14, and the Navy said warships from 15 nations, including Japan, the United States and China, will participate in the first such event in South Korea since 2008.

The Japanese vessel is expected to display the Rising Sun Flag, viewed as an emblem of the country's wartime aggression in South Korea, where historical animosity over the wrongdoings of the country's former colonizer still runs deep. Japan colonized the peninsula from 1910-45.

South Korea earlier informed participating nations that they should raise their national flag and the flag of the host country. One South Korean Navy official said the stance hasn't changed.

"We'll continue to speak with Japan regarding this matter," the official said. "Our Navy has a separate communication channel with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and we'll continue to let them know where we stand."

Another South Korean military source said he expected Japan to carry the flag into Jeju waters and then take it down during the actual review.

A foreign ministry official also told reporters on Sunday that the government communicated its concerns to Japan over the issue.

"Our government, through a diplomatic channel, has told Japan that it needs to proactively consider the public sentiment our people have over the Rising Sun Flag and exchanged opinions on that," the official said, without elaborating.

Japan has rejected South Korean calls to keep the Rising Sun Flag at home. On Friday, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said ships for the country's Maritime Self-Defense Force are required by law to hoist that flag, which he said has been recognized as an indicator of the ship's country under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Onodera was quoted as saying by Kyodo News: "As a matter of course, we will raise it," referring to the controversial flag.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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