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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 September 4 - 10  > Tokyo 2020 organizers refuse to ban flag symbolizing Japan’s war of aggression at Summer Games venues
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2019 September 4 - 10 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Tokyo 2020 organizers refuse to ban flag symbolizing Japan’s war of aggression at Summer Games venues

September 5, 2019

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games decided that it will not ban the “Rising Sun Flag (Kyokujitsu-ki)”, which was flown by the Japanese Imperial military during the war, at the venue, Akahata learned on September 4.

As the reason for this decision, the organizers explained that the “Kyokujitsu-ki” flag is widely used in Japan and that the display of this flag does not constitute political propaganda.

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s decision came in response to an inquiry from South Korean media about a South Korean parliaments’ resolution. The South Korean parliament committee on culture, sports and tourism on August 29 adopted the resolution demanding banning of the “Rising Sun Flag” at Olympic/Paralymic venues on the grounds that the flag was used in pre-war and wartime Japan as a symbol of its imperialism and militarism.

Not only for South Koreans but also for people in other Asian countries, the “Kyokujitsu-ki (rising sun)” flag is a reminder of Japanese militarism as it was used by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy during World War II. It is easy to imagine how repulsed people from Asian countries will feel if they see it waving during the Tokyo 2020 Games.

To show the Kyokujitsu-ki flag has been unacceptable at various sporting events.

In April 2017, during the Asian Champions League match between South Korea’s Suwon football club (Suwon Samsung Bluewings) and Japan’s Kawasaki football club (Kawasaki Frontale) held in South Korea, Kawasaki supporters hung the controversial flag at the Suwon’s home stadium, which led to a serious problem. The Asian Football Confederation at that time judged that Kawasaki fans displayed the flag in violation of the AFC rules prohibiting any act of displaying a slogan or symbol that humiliates the opponent team and is recognized as political. This judgement highlighted the story behind the flag.

To provide an opportunity for building peace through sports is one of the important principles of the Olympic movement. It is obvious that the role the “Kyokujitsu-ki” flag played in the war goes against the Olympic movement principles. The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, which has a responsibility to set the stage for peaceful exchanges among people from across the globe, should reverse its decision without delay.
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