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South Korea and Japan Come into Conflict Surrounding an International Fleet Review on Jeju Island

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) declared that it would boycott the International Fleet Review on Jeju Island and would not to send its vessels.

Japan Boycotting an International Fleet Review on Jeju Island

The International Fleet Review in Jeju is a naval review held by the Republic of Korea Navy (ROK Navy) every decade, where navies from around the world gather to establish harmony and peace. In 2018, it was held from October 10th to 14th.

Japanese Broadcast Reporting Korea Hoisting Sujagi

The reason why JMSDF boycotted the event was related to the “rising sun” flag. The rising sun flag is the flag which has long been used as its symbol, representing the Empire of Japan during World WarⅡ. Korea, which used to be a colony of the Empire of Japan, has antagonism towards the flag. Recently, this hostility has become higher because the Japanese government has never apologized for its war crimes including “comfort women.” Thus, the Korean government announced that participating nations of the event could hoist their national flags only. This announcement was an action to keep JMSDF from using the rising sun flag. JMSDF insisted that the announcement was unreasonable in that the rising sun flag was now just a symbol of national sovereignty, not of imperialism. As a result, the International Fleet Review on Jeju started on October 10th just with vessels from 14 nations, excluding Japan.

Hoisting Sujagi: Beginning of Another Conflict
After the opening of the International Fleet Review in Jeju, another conflict occurred. On October 11th, the ROK Navy raised sujagi, a flag representing Korean Admiral Yi Sun-sin who defeated Japan during wars in the 1590s. Regarding this, Japanese defense minister Takeshi Iwaya expressed regret. He said that it was hypocritical that the Korean government approved the use of sujagi, while not accepting the rising sun flag. The Korean government explained that the ROK Navy hoisted sujagi with the intention of remembering the history of the ROK Navy and improving its maritime powers.

이수연  pim545@skku.edu

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