South Korea asks IOC to ban ‘rising sun’ flag at Tokyo Olympics

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has formally asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the Japanese “rising sun” flag at next year’s Tokyo Games, calling it a symbol of Japan’s brutal wartime past.

South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism yesterday said it sent a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach expressing “deep disappointment and concern” over Japanese plans to allow the flag in stadiums and other facilities during the 2020 Olympics.

South Korean Olympic officials last month urged the local organising committee to ban the flag, but Tokyo organisers responded by saying it was widely used in Japan, was not considered a political statement and “it is not viewed as a prohibited item”.

The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many South Koreans, who still harbour animosity over Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The ministry said in its letter to Bach, it described the flag as an unmistakable political symbol that’s embraced by Japanese rightwing protesters who vent anger toward Koreans and other foreigners.