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Japan defies S. Korea call not to use rising sun flag at naval event

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan will not refrain from hoisting the rising sun flag at an international naval review in South Korea, despite its neighboring country's concern, the defense minister said Friday.

"As a matter of course, we will raise it," Itsunori Onodera told a press conference, referring to the flag that is regarded by some in South Korea and China as a symbol of Japan's wartime aggression.

Onodera noted that Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force's ships are obliged to hoist the flag by the country's law and it has long been recognized as an indicator to which country they belong under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

On Thursday, a South Korean Navy source said Seoul told Japan and other countries participating in the fleet review in late August that their warships should only raise their own national flags and the national flag of South Korea during next month's event.

Onodera also pointed out that the design of the rising sun flag has been widely used in Japan.

The rising sun flag was used by the Imperial Japanese Army before the end of World War II. China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan's past militarism still run deep, often accuses Tokyo of not atoning enough for the atrocities committed before and during the war.

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