Australian veterans Wednesday criticized a government order that flags be flown at half-staff Friday in honor of the late Japanese Emperor Hirohito and called instead for "a day of rejoicing."

Bruce Ruxton, head of the Returned Soldiers League, labeled the government order groveling. "It should be a day of rejoicing, not sorrow," Ruxton said.Ruxton's comments followed an order by Administrative Services Minister Stewart West that all government flags be flown at half-staff during the funeral. A spokesman for West said Wednesday it was standard protocol to fly flags at half-staff as a sign of respect upon the death of foreign heads of state. He refused comment on Ruxton's attack.

Ruxton said the Australian government had more respect for the Japanese yen than the feelings of Australian war veterans.