Entries in Flag (3)


2012 Olympics: Flag Flub Prompts North Koreans to Walk off Field

Stanley Chou/Getty Images(GLASGOW, Scotland) -- The opening ceremonies of the London Summer Olympics are still a day away and already there's a controversy.

As usual, the soccer competition started early as North Korea's women's team met the Colombian squad at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, and as is custom, profiles of the players were shown beforehand on the big screen along with their country's flag.

Only in the case of North Korea, some signals were crossed and the South Korean flag was flashed.

Since the two countries remain bitter foes 60 years after the Korean War ended, the coach pulled his team off the field and refused to return for over an hour.

Meanwhile, the games' organizers in London issued a statement saying, "Clearly this is a mistake, we will apologize to the team and the national Olympic committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again."

The faux pas evidently inspired North Korea, which wound up beating Colombia, 2-0.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fight Over Japanese Anthem, Flag Heads to Supreme Court

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- English teacher Hiroko Arai knew she was putting her career on the line in 2004 when she refused to sing the Japanese national anthem and salute the flag during a school ceremony.  But she felt she could not salute an anthem and a flag that glorifies an emperor and was an echo of Japan's militaristic past.

Her silent protest, which cost her a reprimand and a five percent cut in bonus pay, is now headed to Japan's Supreme Court.

"I've always taught my students they should stand up for what they believe, even if they're in the minority," Arai said.  "If I obeyed the order, I felt I would be turning my back on those students."

Now retired, Arai, 65, is leading the fight to overturn a rule she says invokes Japan's militaristic past.  She is one of roughly 400 teachers who have joined a class-action lawsuit, now headed to the Supreme Court, to fight the enforced patriotism.

The Japanese anthem "Kimigayo," or "His Majesty's Reign," is a short, five-line tribute to its emperor.  The first verse reads, "May your reign continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations."

The song was used as a rallying point for Japanese imperialism, and the Japanese military fought under the hinomaru, or rising-sun flag, during World War II.  And while the country has made efforts to distance itself from its militaristic past, the anthem's lyrics and flag were never changed, unlike Italy and Germany.  The flag and anthem were made legal national symbols in 1999.

"People are expected to stand for the anthem even outside of school," said Hiroshi Nishihara, a law professor at Waseda University.  "But the words harken back to emperor-worship.  Many people may stand for it, but they can't get themselves to sing the words."

Nishihara says public schools in southern Japan's Kyushu region were among the first to enforce salute of the national anthem and flag.  Other cities like Osaka and Hiroshima have followed, but none have been as aggressive about the enforcements as Tokyo.

The board there instructs schools to take down names of people who refuse to follow the rules.  Teachers are given a warning after the first protest.  Pay cuts, suspension and job termination may follow.

More than 400 people have been reprimanded since the rules went into affect seven years ago, according to the Tokyo Board of Education.  A spokesperson with the compliance department said the enforcement became necessary because some teachers refused to stand and others publicly protested after initial warnings.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Palestinian Flag Flies Officially for First Time in Washington

Image Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Palestinian flag was flown for the first time outside Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) diplomatic offices in Washington today, in a symbolic step that officials said shows momentum towards creation of an independent Palestinian state.

"We hope that this will help international efforts to provide recognition of the Palestinian state,” said Ambassador Maen Areikat, “and we hope that, as President Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly last year, by the next General Assembly session this year in September, Palestine will be a full member of the U.N."

Palestinian leaders have been intensely lobbying members of the U.N. for official recognition this year despite U.S. opposition and the threat of a veto. The U.S. has said Palestinian statehood should come as part of a peace deal with Israel.

Still, Areikat praised the Obama administration for a small, if symbolic, gesture that reflects improved diplomatic relations and a U.S. commitment to help promote the goal of a Palestinian state.

"It means the administration is serious," he said of the U.S. permission to fly the flag. "What we are urging them now is to translate their support for a Palestinian state into concrete action."

The Palestinian diplomatic mission has been under a number of restrictions since the U.S. government stopped classifying the PLO as a terrorist group after the Oslo Accords of 1993. It does not have full diplomatic status as an independent state.

The pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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