Asian Games: Japan protest over banner of assassin

Japan has protested to Asian Games organisers in South Korea after the image of a Korean hero who assassinated a senior Japanese official a century ago was shown in a stadium, officials said Tuesday.

Asian Games: Japan protest over banner of assassin

Incheon: Japan has protested to Asian Games organisers in South Korea after the image of a Korean hero who assassinated a senior Japanese official a century ago was shown in a stadium, officials said Tuesday.

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) acted after fans unveiled a large banner showing Ahn Jung-Geun when South Korea beat rivals Japan 1-0 in the Asian Games football quarter-finals on Sunday.

The banner was another sign of the lingering anger over Japan`s occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Ahn is considered a hero for killing Hirobumi Ito, Japan`s first prime minister and its top official in Japanese-occupied Korea, during a visit to China in 1909. Ahn was hanged the following year, when Korea formally became a Japanese colony.

There are numerous statues and memorials to him across South Korea. But Tokyo has condemned him as terrorist.

"In response to the JOC`s protest letter, our committee promised to prevent the recurrence of such an incident," an official at the Asiad organising committee, IAGOC, told AFP.

"The JOC`s protest was not so strong, and we believe it will not escalate into a major row," the official added.

Sporting events between South Korea and Japan are often politically charged given the animosity between the two countries.

Korean player Park Jong-Woo caused a diplomatic row over a territorial dispute by waving a political flag after their 2-0 win in the 2012 Olympic bronze medal game in London.

Last week, IAGOC sent a protest letter to the JOC over badges handed out by Japanese field hockey players as souvenirs to schoolgirls in Incheon.

The badges show the logo of the Japan Hockey Association which resembles Japan`s wartime rising sun flag, seen by many Koreans as a symbol of Japanese cruelty during the occupation.

The JOC insisted the badge has no connection to Japan`s militarist past.

Last year, some Japanese football fans were condemned in South Korea after they waved the rising sun flag while cheering their national team during the East Asian Cup in Seoul.

Relations between Tokyo and Seoul are at a low over disputes related to Japan`s colonial rule. South Korea feels Japan has not done enough to express remorse for colonial abuses or to compensate victims.