Outraged veterans forced the government to back down on its decision to fly the flag at half-staff over the Australian War Memorial during Friday's funeral for Hirohito.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke intervened Thursday after a wave of protest from veterans over plans to lower the flag on all government buildings in respect for the late emperor.Hawke said he was aware of the sensitivities of war veterans and their families and agreed to exempt the War Memorial..

Many Australians regard Hirohito, who died Jan. 7 at age 87, as an unrepentant war criminal.

A spokesman said flags are lowered in recognition of any head of state who dies in a country with which Australia has full diplomatic relations.