Japan won't send vessel to fleet review in South Korea over flag issue

Kyodo, JIJI

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced Friday that the Maritime Self-Defense Force will not send any of its vessels to an international fleet review to be held in South Korea from Wednesday, over a South Korean request not to display the Rising Sun flag during the event.

Iwaya said the decision had been conveyed to the South Korean government.

“It is extremely regrettable,” Iwaya told reporters at the ministry.

In South Korea, there is antipathy toward the MSDF’s Rising Sun flag as its design is the same as that of the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Navy.

At a news conference on Tuesday, MSDF Chief of Staff Adm. Yutaka Murakawa had said, “Vessels of the MSDF are obliged by domestic law to display the flag,” suggesting that it would not meet the South Korean request.

Meanwhile, MSDF officials may take part in a related symposium scheduled for Oct. 12, according to the government sources.