It is expected that Japan's maritime self-defense force will not join the 2018 International Fleet Review to be held at the Jeju Civilian-Military Complex Port starting from Oct. 10 to 14.
According to military sources, Japan announced on Friday to Korean authorities that it would not participate in an upcoming maritime event if it is not allowed to raise its "rising sun" flag on its warship. However, it has been reported that Japan could send a group of representatives including naval senior officials to the Western Pacific Naval Symposium during the international fleet review.
Previously, the Korean government and the Navy requested that participating countries including Japan fly their flags and the Korean national flag on their naval vessels at the event in Jeju. It was intended to refrain Japan from raising the symbolic flag that represents Japanese militarism, given Korean public opinions on the problematic flag.
In response, Japan has kept saying "no" to Korea’s requests. Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, Japan's Chief of the Joint Staff, said in a press conference on Thursday that the rising sun flag is a source of pride to Japan, which thus will never be removed in any case. It is an unprecedented case where the chief of Japan’s self-defense force directly mentioned the flag in question. Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, who took office on Tuesday, reaffirmed his determination to raising its "rising sun" flag. "The flag is required by the Self-Defense Law to be raised on warships of the self-defense force," the newly appointed minister said. "The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that the flag is classified as a sign that represents a vessel’s nationality."
The Korean Navy that organizes this year’s event has found it regrettable that the controversy over the flag of Japanese colonialism can lead to be a diplomatic confrontation, going beyond being a sensible issue. The South Korean government and naval authorities plan to keep persuading Japan to accept their request before the event opens. However, it will not be likely that Japan says yes to their requests, according to experts.
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