A Japanese ship flying the U.S. flag arrived in Busan on Monday, prompting local civil society groups to react strongly, saying the flag is a symbol of wars of aggression.
The Hamagiri, a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ship, arrived at the Busan Naval Operating Base this morning flying the self-defense flag, a type of Japanese flag.
The flag symbolizes Japan’s militarism since World War II. Japanese Self-Defense Forces ships have flown the flag and the Japanese flag together since 1954.
At the 2018 international flag ceremony organized by the ROK Navy, the South Korean government demanded that the Japanese flag and the Korean flag be flown instead of the flag, but Japan strongly objected and boycotted the ceremony.
Last November, during the international flag ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, a South Korean logistics support ship, the Soyang, saluted a light aircraft carrier with a self-defense flag, leading to criticism of “humiliation diplomacy.
The Hamagiri will participate in the ‘Eastern Endeavor 23’먹튀검증 drill in the waters off Jeju on March 31. The drill is being held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the PSI and involves South Korea, Japan, the United States and Australia.
During the drill, Defense Minister Lee Jong-seop will be aboard the Marado to receive a salute from the ships, including the Hamagiri.
The Defense Ministry maintains that it is an international custom for Japanese ships to fly the self-defense flag.
“It is generally understood that when a ship enters a foreign port, it flies a flag representing the country’s military or institution,” Defense Ministry spokesman Jeon Ha-kyu said at a regular briefing on Sept. 25, adding, “I understand that this is a common practice around the world.”
Despite this explanation, anti-Japanese and anti-war civil society organizations are pushing back, saying the flag should not be allowed to fly, as it is a symbol of a war of aggression.
An official from People for Peace and Reunification in Busan (Pyeongtongsa) said, “The Ministry of National Defense is misleading by saying, ‘There is a difference between a self-defense warship flag and the U.S. flag,’ but the U.S. flag is a symbol of Japan committing war crimes,” and criticized the use of a flag considered a symbol of Japan’s war of aggression after the government granted immunity to Japan, which refused to apologize or compensate for its invasion and colonization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Following a one-person protest in front of the Busan Operational Base in Baekunpo on the same day, Pyongtongsa will continue to protest against PSI drills involving the Self-Defense Forces in Seomyeon, Busan’s Jin-gu district, on March 31.