The South Korean Olympic Committee said on Saturday it had removed banners from Olympic Athletes’ Village in Tokyo referring to a 16th-century war between Korea and Japan after the International Olympic Committee deemed it provocative.
In agreeing to remove the banners, the South Koreans said they had received a promise from the IOC that the display of the Japanese flag of the “rising sun” would be banned in stadiums and other Olympic venues. The flag, depicting a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is felt by many in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past.
The South Korean banners, which sparked protests from some Japanese far-right groups, had been hung from the balconies of South Korean athletes’ rooms and collectively spelled out a message that read: “I still have the support of 50 million. of Koreans.
It is inspired by the famous words of 16th century Korean naval admiral Yi Sun-sin, who according to historical lore told King Seonjo of the Kingdom of Korea Joseon “I still have 12 battleships left” before. to achieve a crucial victory against a larger Japanese fleet during the 1592-1598 Japanese invasions of Korea.
The South Korean Olympic Committee said the IOC told it the banners conjured up images of war and violated rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which states that “no kind of demonstration or political propaganda , religious or racial is not allowed on Olympic venues, venues or other areas. The committee said it agreed to remove the banners after the IOC promised to apply the same rules to the Rising Sun flags as well. to ban them from all Olympic venues.
“Under the agreement, the committee will no longer raise a debate to allow athletes to fully concentrate on the competition, while the IOC will ban the display of the rising sun flag at all Olympic venues so that no problems arise. politics don’t arise, ”the South Korean said. the committee said in a statement.
South Korea first formally asked the IOC to ban the Rising Sun flag from the 2019 Olympics, comparing it to the Nazi swastika. South Korean Olympic officials then said the Tokyo organizing committee rejected their requests to ban the flag, saying it was used widely in Japan and was not seen as a political statement.
Many South Koreans still harbor animosity over the 1910-1945 Japanese colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula, and the countries have seen their relations crumble to new post-war lows in recent years with disputes over history, trade and military cooperation.
Countries have been trying to improve their relations since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, who called for enhanced tripartite cooperation with traditional US allies in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat and challenges posed by China. But progress has been slow.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador Koichi Aiboshi on Saturday to protest the comments made by another senior Japanese diplomat who, according to a local broadcaster, used obscene language to ridicule the South President’s efforts. Korean Moon Jae-in to improve bilateral relations during a meeting with his reporters. .
The countries had discussed the possibility of Moon traveling to Tokyo to participate in the opening ceremony of the Olympics and hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on improving relations.