Tokyo Olympics: South Korea Removes Controversial Flags After Japanese Protests

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South Korea’s Olympic committee said it has removed flags at its Olympic village in Tokyo after they raised bad memories about a past military conflict between Japan and Korea.

The South Korean delegation said Saturday it was complying and removing the flags, which referenced a 16th-century battle between the two nations. The flags drew protests from Japanese far-right groups, according to the AP.

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The flags were displayed from the balconies of South Korean athletes’ rooms in the Athletes Village. They collectively spelled the message: “I still have the support of 50 million Korean people.”

The reference was a paraphrase of the words of a Korean admiral during the 1592-1598 Japanese invasion of Korea. The admiral told a Korean official, “I still have 12 battleships left,” then destroyed a larger fleet of Japanese ships.

In a related matter, the International Olympics committee has also banned the Japanese “Rising Sun” flag at stadiums and other Olympic venues. That flag is resented by many in Asia and seen as a reminder of Japan’s militaristic past.

The Olympics officially start July 23.

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