National / Politics

Japan's Foreign Ministry to provide Korean-language explanation of Rising Sun flag on website

JIJI

Japan’s Foreign Ministry plans to provide an explanation in Korean on use of the kyokujitsuki Rising Sun flag on its website, in addition to the details currently provided in Japanese and English.

The ministry hopes to counter moves by South Korea to have Japan stop using the flag, officials said, after the design was criticized as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

An English passage currently shown on the ministry’s website says the design of the flag “has been widely used in Japan for a long time,” citing examples such as fishermen’s banners hoisted to signify large catches of fish.

The Maritime and Ground self-defense forces employ the design of the rising sun on their flags, which “are widely accepted in the international community,” the ministry says.

In South Korea, there is a strong aversion toward the Rising Sun flag as the design was used by the former Imperial Japanese military. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

Last year, the MSDF skipped an international fleet review hosted by South Korea after Japan was asked not to fly the Rising Sun flag on its vessels. South Korea has also requested that Japan ban use of the flag at venues for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi rejected the demand, saying that the government does not regard flying the Rising Sun flag as propaganda.

The ministry is considering communicating Japan’s position in other languages, including French and Spanish, the officials said.