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Confederate flag displays off limits on US Forces Japan installations

U.S. Forces Japan is barring displays of the Confederate flag from its installations, according to USFJ Commander Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider.

“The Confederate Battle Flag does not represent the values of U.S. Forces assigned to serve in Japan,” Schneider wrote in a memo, dated July 2. “While I acknowledge some might view it as a symbol of regional pride, many others in our force see it as a painful reminder of the history of hate, bigotry, treason, and devaluation of humanity that it represents.”

“Regardless of perspective, one thing is clear: it has the power to inflame feelings of racial division. We cannot and will not tolerate a symbol that incites this sort of division among us.”

The memo, which was released on July 13, directs commanders to identify and ensure the removal of all displays of the Confederate battle flag in work places, common access areas, and other public areas on all USFJ installations.

Office buildings, individual offices and cubicles, military and government vehicles, aircraft, hangars, conference rooms, bachelor quarters, and the outside of on-installation family housing, and other public areas on base will all be checked for displays of the flag.

The order also applies to clothing or bumper stickers depicting the Confederate flag.

Some exceptions exist, for example in educational, historic, or artistic displays where the flag is shown, so long as it’s not the main image featured in the display.

The military has released similar memos following the death of George Floyd, a Black man prosecutors say was murdered by a white Minneapolis police officer. For example, the memo is nearly identical to another issued by U.S. Forces Korea in June barring all displays of the Confederate flag from USFK installations.

Likewise, the order comes after the Marine Corps became the first service to prohibit displays of the flag in June. Days later, the Navy took a similar action when Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday instructed his staff to start putting together an order to outlaw displays of the flag across the service.

Meanwhile, a draft policy is also in the works at the Pentagon to prohibit the display of the flag in an attempt to keep “the morale of our personnel, good order and discipline within the military ranks and unit cohesion,” per the Associated Press.

The policy has not yet been signed by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

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