Last Wednesday South Korea formally asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the use of the Japanese Rising Sun flag in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. According to the Washington Post, Seoul’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has written to IOC President Thomas Bach expressing concern that the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games have not taken steps to ban the display of the flag.
"This is what the Rising Sun flag stands for. Allowing it at the Olympics is unacceptable."
This image is from a nationalist rally that took place in Tokyo today. The Rising Sun flag is used as a symbol of pro-imperialism, racism, and both xenophobic and nationalist sentiment. https://t.co/Cjc3NBuAsF
— Kazuma Hashimoto (@JusticeKazzy_) September 15, 2019
The Rising Sun flag is associated with Imperial Japan’s occupation of Pacific and mainland Asia through the 1930s and 40s. An Min-suk, head of the South Korean government’s Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee, feels that the flag violates the spirit of the Olympic Games. According to The Post, South Korean officials compared the flag to the Nazi swastika.
The ministry also pointed out in their letter to the IOC that the flag has already been banned from international FIFA matches.
South Korea initially requested the flag’s removal through the Tokyo Organizing Committee, who responded to the concern last month saying, “It is widely used in Japan; the flag itself is not considered to be a political statement, so it is not viewed as a prohibited item.” This controversy follows ongoing trade disputes between the two nations.