SEOUL - Japan should refrain from flying the "Rising Sun" flag on a warship in a fleet review planned in South Korea next week, a North Korean propaganda website said on Friday, joining South Koreans in the latest spat over the countries' colonial history.
Relations between the neighbors and Japan have long been strained by lingering resentment over Japanese colonization, territorial disputes and the issue of girls and women forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels.
Many people in both Koreas see the red-and-white flag as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression and its occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
"The 'Rising Sun' flag is a war-crime flag that the 20th-century Japanese imperialists used when executing their barbaric invasions into our nation and other Asian nations," North Korea's state-controlled Uriminjokkiri website said.
"Planning to enter flying the 'Rising Sun' flag is an unbearable insult and ridicule to our people."
In South Korea, which has formally asked Japan to reconsider flying the flag, articles about the controversy are among the most widely read on social media, with the president's office receiving 250 petitions for the Japanese ship to be barred.