Japan has made a decision to skip an global naval event in South Korea next week amid a dispute over its plan to fly the Rising Sun flag, a Seoul government source said Friday.
When asked whether South Korea could raise the issue of Japan's usage of the flag with the United Nations, Kang said her ministry will review the "possible and appropriate options" before deciding whether to take stronger global action.
Japan's chief of staff, Katsutoshi Kawano, rejected the South Korean request on Thursday, insisting the Rising Sun ensign is a symbol of "pride" for the Maritime Self-Defense Force and stating, "We absolutely do not go if we have to remove the flag".
He noted that Maritime Self-Defense Force ships are obliged by national law to hoist the flag. South Koreans regard the flag as a symbol of Japan's imperialistic past.
South Korea strongly opposed this, citing public sentiment here. They say the flag is also widely recognized as identification for the Japanese military under an worldwide maritime convention.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo acknowledged to lawmakers on Monday that there's not much the country can do under "international custom" if Japan insists on displaying the rising-sun flag on the vessel coming to Jeju.
"Planning to enter flying the "Rising Sun" flag is an unbearable insult and ridicule to our people".
Japan, out of concern about the flag's war image, explored a new design ahead of the creation of its postwar navy in 1954 and used a flag with a red cherry blossom on blue and white stripes for two years.
However, Japan was reported to still be sending a delegation to the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, taking place during the fleet review. The rocks are occupied by South Korea but are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.
Japan was a key player in US -led efforts to isolate and punish North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Japan's relations with both South and North Korea have always been strained by lingering resentment over its colonization of the peninsula, territorial rows and the issue of girls and women forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels, Reuters said.