Japan flag meaning

Japan flag meaning DEFAULT

I was doing some research about Japan the other day, when I inevitably came across the Japan’s Flag. Very simple at first sight, this flag is filled with symbolism and history. Do you want to know more? You’re at the right place!

japan flag

So what does the Japanese Flag mean? The Japanese flag is composed of a white banner with a crimson-red disk at the center which represents the sun. Officially, the Japanese Flag is known as Nisshōki, meaning the “sun-mark flag”, but it’s also called Hinomaru, which means the “circle of the sun”.

Ok, so this is the basic information about the flag, but now let’s dive together into the true meaning in detail.

Japanese Flag history

To understand the true meaning of the Japanese flag, we must undoubtedly understand Japan’s history and the changing-perception of the flag.

There’s no real evidence of when the Japanese flag was created, but there’re lots of references to it, way before the flag being used as a national symbol. For example:

  • In a letter to the Chinese Emperor, in the early 7th century, the Japanese Emperor refers to himself as “the Emperor of the rising sun
  • During the Mongol Invasion in the 13th century, Japanese Buddhist priests gave a sun banner to the military dictator of Japan known as shōgun
  • In 1854, the flag was used to identify the Japanese ships when Japan started to develop diplomatic relations and commerce with Europe. It became the official merchant flag in 1870

With the arrival of conflicts and war, the flag started to gain importance and was seen at celebrations after victories. During this period patriotism was at full expansion and taught as a virtue. Now let’s take a look at some examples of the sun disk usage at that time:

  • Soldiers received flags as lucky charms with a prayer to return safely from war, but the writings must never touch the sun disc at the center. This lucky charm was known as Hinomaru Yosegaki(日の丸寄せ書き)
  • The flag was raised at schools in morning ceremonies
  • Kamikaze pilots used a white headband with the red disk at the center that looks like this one on Amazon. This headband is known as hachimaki (鉢巻) and is still used today to encourage the person who wears it, as a symbol of effort and perseverance.

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After the war, people were no longer legally required to display the flag on national holidays, even if the Japanese government still encourages it.

There’s a huge debate regarding Hinomaru and Japan’s National Anthem called Kimigayo (君が代 which means “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign”) due to their post-war history. As a matter of fact, some teachers and schools refused both symbols, though they were obliged to apply them in schools.

In 1999, both symbols were recognized by law as national symbols of Japan and though some teachers opposed to it, after some incidents, the Japan Teachers Union finally accepts their use inside the school system.

Nowadays, the white color of the flag represents the honesty and integrity of the Japanese people. As for the crimson red disk, it symbolizes the sun goddessAmaterasu (天照) the ancestor of Japan’s emperors and the mythical founder of Japan. This is why the country is called the land of the rising sun; and also because Japan it’s located at the far east of the Asian continent.

By the way, if you’re curious about the events of World War II, there are some great books that can tell you more about the flags’ symbolism during this dark period of history, like Flags of Our Fathers or The Girl with the White Flag both available at Amazon. You can actually read a book for free during the free month trial of Amazon Kindle Unlimited or the Audible Free Month Trial for audiobooks too.

Other flags in Japan

Like many other countries, Japan’s flag evolved over time. At first the flag had the sun disk at the center surrounded by 16 rays and it was used by the Imperial Japanese Army. On the other hand, the Imperial Japanese Navy had the same flag, but the disk was sightly to the left. Both flags stopped being used at the end of World War II. Former Imperial Japanese Navy flag was re-adopted in 1954 by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and is still being used in the present days. As for the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, they use a flag with a golden border and the sun disk surrounded by 8 rays. (See the picture below for better understanding)

You can get yourself a cool Imperial Navy Flag from Amazon or even the magnificent Nisshōki, the white flag with the red disk.

Japan has also 47 prefecture flags (one for each prefecture). Just like the national flag, prefecture flags are composed of a symbol over a mono-colored background (except for one prefecture which has a bi-colored one). Most of the prefectures respect the 2:3 ratio and the symbol in the center.


japan flag

As you can imagine, the Japanese flag history was far from calm. All the changes and the fact of being involved in war didn’t help the people accept it easily. That’s why there were a lot of incidents related to the flag, even though its colors have a beautiful meaning.

And since the government only established his nationals symbols officially in 1999, not much time has passed to make the respect of the symbols a natural habit.

Even if it had a problematic history, I still think that the Japanese flag meaning reflects well the Japanese people. And you, what do you think? Leave your feedback in the comments below.

In the meantime, I’m going to watch the movie 1945 End of War available for free with my Amazon Prime subscription. Get your free Amazon Prime month trial here 🙂

Click here to learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com
Sours: https://japanhorizon.com/japan-flag-meaning/

Introducing the flag of Japan

The flag of Japan. © KPG_Payless/Shutterstock.com

Japan is a country of 6,852 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is traditionally called the Land of the Rising Sun, which is reflected in its flag design. 

Japan’s national flag is a fairly simple design featuring a red sun symbol against a backdrop of pure white. 

Flag facts

Adopted: 1870
Design: A red disc on a white background.
Usage: National and civil
Ratio: 2:3 

What does the Japan flag mean?

The red disc represents the sun, a traditional symbol of Japan. The disc is called Hinomaru,
meaning the “circle of the sun.” The colour white is for purity and honesty.


The history of the Japan flag

The history of its sun symbol goes back many centuries and it was used on military banners in the past. According to legend, Japan’s first emperors were the descendants of the sun goddess
Amaterasu. The flag is traditionally hoisted on a pole of natural bamboo with a gold ball at the top. 

Japan flag facts

• The flag is officially called Nisshōki, which means “sun-mark flag” in Japanese, but it is more commonly referred to as Hinomaru.
• The exact colour of the disc is crimson red. 
• The disc is placed at the exact centre of the flag and is always three-fifths of the hoist length.

Each flag you see is a picture that has a meaning and sends a message to everyone who sees it. Every country in the world has a flag that represents it and announces to the world that they are proud of our country. Regions and cities often have flags, too. To explore more about the amazing world of flags, check out Lonely Planet’s The Flag Book.

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Slow travel in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea
Exploring Japanese traditions in the ‘Deep North’ region of Tohoku
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Sours: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/flag-of-japan-facts-history-and-design
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Flag of Japan - Colours, Meaning, History 🇯🇵

History of the Flag of Japan

History books detail usage of the first sun-themed flag in 701 AD by Emperor Monmu. The Unpo-Ji temple also houses the oldest Japanese flag, which is said to be older than the 16th century. This flag was given to Minamoto no Yoshimitsu by Emperor Go-Reizei and has remained a family treasure for the Takeda clan, for the past 1000 years.




The unification period during the late 16th century has the earliest recordings of the Japanese flag. The daimyu014d, or Japanese feudal lords, used flags during battle. The flags had the family crest of the daimyo lords. The members of the families would have different flags they carried to battle and which served as identification, while the generals had flags which differed from those of the soldiers. 




The period before 1854 saw different Hinomaru flags used on trading vessels between Russia and the US. Japan was ordered to hoist the Hinomaru to ease identification from foreign ships. In 1870, they declared the Hinomaru as the official merchant flag. From 1870 to 1885, it became the legal national flag, making it the first flag to be adopted in Japan. During the Meiji government, one that restored imperial rule to the Japanese empire, they used the flag to communicate to the outside world. It is also during this period that Japan established the imperial seal and the national anthem- the Kimigayo.




They used the flag during the war between Japan and China (Sino-Japanese war), between Russia and Japan (Russo-Japanese War) and in all other war efforts in the country. It became the symbol of solidarity among soldiers and for war mobilization until the 1940s.




Additionally, the flag was also used for celebrations when Japan won wars and children displayed it as a sign of patriotism. The flag was also used as a tool during Japanese Imperialism. Those conquered by the Japanese had to use the flag, and school children sang the Kimigayo when raising the flag. They did allow local flags in areas like Indonesia, Philippines, and Manchukuo, but in Korea, the flag and other symbols declared Koreans, Japanese subjects. For the Japanese, the flag was supposed to light the entire world’s darkness.




They used the flag throughout World War II, but after the war, during the occupation of Japan, they needed permission to fly the Hinoramu from the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. They lifted the restrictions on May 2nd, 1947, and by 1948, people could fly the flag on national holidays. In 1949, they abolished these limits completely, and the citizens could fly the flag without seeking permission.  The flag, however, was used less in Japan after lifting the restrictions because people associated it with military rule. The national anthem also raised objections as people had shifted their patriotic feeling towards the two. However, in 1999, they declared the Hinomaru and Kimigayo the national symbols of Japan.




What is the meaning behind the colours of the Japanese Flag?





The white colour is a symbol of the integrity and honesty of the people, while the red sun disc is a representation of Amaterasu, the sun goddess. Tradition and history books claim she founded Japan and that emperors descend from her.'








The shape of the Japanese flag is rectangular with a ratio of 2:3.




Interesting Facts about the Flag of Japan

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  • There is a large Japanese national flag at Izumo Shrine, Shimane Prefecture that weighs 49 kgs. It measures 29.5 ft. by 44.6 ft. 
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  • The flag dimensions must be at a ratio of 3:2 with the crimson red circle centered at 3/5 flag width. 
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  • There was an iconic Japanese flag with 16 rays used by the Navy from 1889. However, it’s considered offensive due to its imperialistic and militaristic usage in the past. The San Francisco treaty forbids its usage, but the Japanese Nationalists and the Naval Self Defense Forces still use it.
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Do you know any other interesting facts about the flag of Japan? Share your thoughts below.




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Sours: https://www.edarabia.com/japan/flag/

On Friday July 10, after a week of emotional debate between legislators, the Confederate flag came down on the South Carolina State House grounds.

I may not be an expert on the Confederate flag or the Civil War, but I have studied what Japanese flags have meant and still mean to people in Japan and other Asian countries.

In the eyes of many, both the so-called Rising Sun Flag (a red circle with sixteen sun rays) and Japan’s present national flag (a red circle in the center, called “Hinomaru”) are nothing but offensive, reminding them of Japan’s colonialism and wartime atrocities.

Recent news reports on the Confederate flag debate have reminded me of similar controversies in Japan.

The Rising Sun Flag and Hinomaru go forth in battle

Both the Rising San Flag and Hinomaru were adopted in 1870 by the new Meiji government, which overthrew the feudal government in 1868 and ushered Japan into modernity.

The former became the official flag of the Japanese Army (and later Navy, as well), and the latter the national flag.

Imperial Japan experienced a series of military conflicts in the years that followed, including the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), World War I (1914-18), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), and the Asia-Pacific War (1941-45).

The military’s Rising Sun Flag accompanied the troops as they waged destruction. Hinomaru, too, was also carried by soldiers and was raised when enemy territories fell to the Japanese forces.

For example, when the Chinese city of Nanjing fell to the Japanese forces in December 1937, both of these flags were raised above the walls of the city, on buildings, and on street corners as Japanese soldiers committed murder and rape on a scale that has become a symbol of Japan’s wartime atrocity and a subject of controversy ever since.

Back at home Japanese citizens celebrated their military victories with both their Hinomaru and the Rising Sun flags. While Japanese atrocities in Nanjing were not widely reported, military campaigns suggesting a wide scale killings were often discussed in news reports. On December 16, 1937, for example, the Tokyo Asahi Newspaper wrote that “the Imperial Army [was] now conducting mopping up operations [ie, military operations to annihilate the remaining enemy troops] against stragglers…[of] approximately 60,000.”

The culture of war prevailed in Japanese society at the time: not many Japanese seemed concerned with the fate of citizens in enemy countries. On the contrary, the Rising Sun Flag and Hinomaru were seen as a symbol of resistance against Western colonialism and Chinese/Korean insurgencies.

Change in 1945 - sort of

The images of these two flags changed after Japan’s defeat in 1945.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (1946-48) revealed Japan’s war crimes, including the Nanjing Massacre. As the postwar Japanese mass media printed numerous stories of Japanese atrocities that had occurred across the Pacific in the 1930s and 1940s, the reputation of the military plummeted.

The Allied (mostly American) Occupation dismantled the Imperial Army and Navy, and the Rising Sun Flag disappeared as well.

Two years after the Korean War (1950-53), however, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were established, and both the Naval and Army SDF re-adopted the Rising Sun flag.

As for Hinomaru, unlike its counterparts in defeated Axis countries Germany or Italy, it survived and continues to be Japan’s national flag.

The use of the flags today

Despite its official military use, until recently, the Rising Sun Flag was largely associated in the public mind with right-wing extremists who blatantly claim that the Greater East Asian War, the official name of World War II prior to Japan’s defeat, was a “sacred war.”

In fact, anti-war and anti-military sentiment in Japan has been so strong that few ordinary people were interested in waving the Rising Sun flag. And this is probably why Japan probably has more “peace museums” than any other country.

Hinomaru’s fate was a bit different as Japan became a democratic and more peaceful society, but many school teachers, especially those who were affiliated with Japan Teachers’ Union - a leftist organization - often refused to bow to Hinomaru or even to sing the national anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies. To them, both Japanese wartime flags were - and are - the unforgiven legacies of Imperial Japan.

But things are beginning to change.

In recent sports matches including the World Cup Soccer tournaments in 2008, for example, a few Japanese supporters raised the Rising Sun flags, alongside Hinomaru, to cheer the Japanese team. I assume that they did this due to their ignorance of modern Japanese history with no particular political agenda or intention to offend others. These supporters may not be so different from foreign tourists who purchase headbands with the rising sun or hinomaru at the Narita Airport as their souvenirs.

In contrast, anti-Korean and anti-Chinese racist organizations in Japan, such as Zaitokukai (the equivalent of white supremacists in the US) roam on the streets with the Rising Sun Flag and Hinomaru shouting unbearable speeches such as “Kill Koreans.” The organization claims that it has 14,000 members, but the figure, to my mind, seems inflated.

These groups romanticize Japan’s aggressive and colonial past - not unlike the attitudes of right-wing extremists in the US toward the American past.

Racist rallies - that are now amplified by being videotaped and uploaded to the internet - demonstrate Japan’s new grassroots nationalism that denies the authority and validity of the country’s postwar constitution and education.

In 2014, the Japanese Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that hate speech by Zaitokukai directed at a Korean school was a violation of law and ordered the group to pay 12 million yen (app. $100,000) in compensation to the school.

Nonetheless, it continues to organize racist rallies, and counter protesters continue to organize theirs. Arrests during these rallies have also been made, as participants often get excited and use spit, fists, head, feet, middle finger, and other body parts — but no guns due to Japan’s strict gun control — in order to settle their differences.

As for Hinomaru, the ruling party passed a law in 1999 declaring it the national flag and mandating teachers at public K-12 schools to honor the flag. Some teachers have been fighting against what they say is coercion and sued the Tokyo schoolboard. In June 2015, the government urged public universities to raise the national flag and honor it.

Meanwhile, no Japanese business retailer has decided to remove the Rising Sun flag from T-shirts, key-chains and other merchandise. Some flag companies are aware that conservative Japanese would prefer to purchase 100% Japanese flags and they stress that their products are made in Japan in an attempt to give concerned customers peace of mind.

Would banning these items end racism and bigotry in Japan? I personally do not think so.

What matters is education. Every society has ethnocentrists who refuse to accept fundamental human rights regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality, or religion. In the South Carolina’s case, replacing the flag was probably a necessary step toward historical reconciliation, but replacing the flag should not be the end of discussion: it alone will not promote racial equality or human rights.

Sours: https://theconversation.com/why-do-flags-matter-the-case-of-japan-44500

Meaning japan flag

Flag of Japan

"Hinomaru" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Hanamaru.

National flag

Flag of Japan.svg
NameNisshōki[1] or Hinomaru[2]
AdoptedFebruary 27, 1870; 151 years ago (1870-02-27)[a](civil ensign)
August 13, 1999; 22 years ago (1999-08-13)[b](national flag)
DesignA red disc centered on a white rectangular banner

The nationalflag of Japan is a rectangular white banner bearing a crimson-red circle at its center. This flag is officially called the Nisshōki (日章旗, 'flag of sun'), but is more commonly known in Japan as the Hinomaru (日の丸, 'circle of the sun'). It embodies the country's sobriquet: the Land of the Rising Sun.

The Nisshōki flag is designated as the national flag in the Act on National Flag and Anthem, which was promulgated and became effective on August 13, 1999. Although no earlier legislation had specified a national flag, the sun-disc flag had already become the de facto national flag of Japan. Two proclamations issued in 1870 by the Daijō-kan, the governmental body of the early Meiji period, each had a provision for a design of the national flag. A sun-disc flag was adopted as the national flag for merchant ships under Proclamation No. 57 of Meiji 3 (issued on February 27, 1870),[3] and as the national flag used by the Navy under Proclamation No. 651 of Meiji 3 (issued on October 27, 1870).[4] Use of the Hinomaru was severely restricted during the early years of the Allied occupation of Japan after World War II; these restrictions were later relaxed.

The sun plays an important role in Japanese mythology and religion as the Emperor is said to be the direct descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu and the legitimacy of the ruling house rested on this divine appointment and descent from the chief deity of the predominant Shinto religion. The name of the country as well as the design of the flag reflect this central importance of the sun. The ancient history Shoku Nihongi says that Emperor Monmu used a flag representing the sun in his court in 701, and this is the first recorded use of a sun-motif flag in Japan. The oldest existing flag is preserved in Unpō-ji temple, Kōshū, Yamanashi, which is older than the 16th century, and an ancient legend says that the flag was given to the temple by Emperor Go-Reizei in the 11th century.[5][6][7] During the Meiji Restoration, both the sun disc and the Rising Sun Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Army became major symbols in the emerging Japanese Empire. Propaganda posters, textbooks, and films depicted the flag as a source of pride and patriotism. In Japanese homes, citizens were required to display the flag during national holidays, celebrations and other occasions as decreed by the government. Different tokens of devotion to Japan and its Emperor featuring the Hinomaru motif became popular among the public during the Second Sino-Japanese War and other conflicts. These tokens ranged from slogans written on the flag to clothing items and dishes that resembled the flag.

Public perception of the national flag varies. Historically, both Western and Japanese sources claimed the flag was a powerful and enduring symbol to the Japanese. Since the end of World War II (the Pacific War), the use of the flag and the national anthem Kimigayo has been a contentious issue for Japan's public schools. Disputes about their use have led to protests and lawsuits. For the governments of China and South Korea, the flag is a symbol of aggression and imperialism. Several military banners of Japan are based on the Hinomaru, including the sunrayed naval ensign. The Hinomaru also serves as a template for other Japanese flags in public and private use.


Ancient to medieval[edit]

Progression During the Imperial Inspection at Ou, Matsushima. Ukiyo-e by Hiroshige III(1876)
Flag of Japan (1870–1999).

The exact origin of the Hinomaru is unknown,[8] but the rising sun had some symbolic meaning since the early 7th century (the Japanese archipelago is east of the Asian mainland, and is thus where the sun "rises"). In 607, an official correspondence that began with "from the Emperor of the rising sun" was sent to Chinese Emperor Yang of Sui.[9] Japan is often referred to as "the land of the rising sun".[10]

The sun is closely related to the Imperial family, as legend states the imperial throne was descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu.[11][12] The religion, which is categorized as the ancient Ko-Shintō religion of the Japanese people, includes nature worship and animism, and the faith has been worshiping the sun, especially in agriculture and fishing. The Imperial God, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is the sun goddess. From the Yayoi period (300 BCE) to the Kofun period (250 CE) (Yamato period), the Naiko Kamonkyo (ja:内行花文鏡, a large bronze mirror with patterns like a flower-petal manufactured in Japan) was used as a celebration of the shape of the shining sun and there is a theory that one of the Three Sacred Treasures, Yata no Kagami, is used like this mirror.[13]

During the eastern expedition (Jinmu tosei), Emperor Jimmu's brother Itsuse no Mikoto was killed in a battle against the local chieftain Nagasunehiko ("the long-legged man") in Naniwa (modern-day Osaka). Emperor Jimmu realized, as descendants of the sun, that he did not want to fight towards the sun (to the east), but to fight from the sun (to the west). So his clan went to the east side of Kii Peninsula to battle westward. They reached Kumano (or Ise) and went towards Yamato. They were victorious at the second battle with Nagasunehiko and conquered the Kinki region.[14][15]

The use of the sun-shaped flag was thought to have taken place since the emperor's direct imperial rule (親政) was established after the Isshi Incident in 645 (first year of the Taika (era)).[16]

As for the literature, in the description of Emperor Monmu's Chōga (朝賀) ceremony in 701 (the first year of the Taihō (era)), for the decoration of the ceremony hall on New Year's Day the flag of "Nissho" was raised (日像, the flag with the golden sun), which is said to be the oldest of the original Hinomaru, but it was not a red circle on a white background.[citation needed]

One theory has been influenced by the results of the Genpei War (1180 – 1185). Until the Heian period, the Nishiki flag (Nishiki no mihata 錦の御旗), a symbol of the Imperial Court, had gold and silver moon circles on a red background. At the end of the Heian era, they used the red flag, which is the color of their flag (Taira clan), calling themselves a government army, while Genji (Minamoto clan), in opposition to it, fought the Genpei war with the white flag. Since ancient times, the sun has been a symbol of national unity because of the close relationship between national rule and the sun. When Taira was destroyed and the samurai government was established by Genji, successive shōguns claimed to be descendants of Genji, and it was said that the Hinomaru of "Shirachikamaru" (白地赤丸, red circle on white background) had been inherited as a symbol of those who achieved the unification of the country. In Japan, "red and white" has been regarded as a joyous color scheme. One theory is folklore that there is a sense of Sacred–profane dichotomy (sacred = red, profane = white), and that this is also derived from the Genpei War.[citation needed]

In the 12th-century work, The Tale of the Heike, it was written that different samurai carried drawings of the sun on their fans.[17] One legend related to the national flag is attributed to the Buddhist priest Nichiren. Supposedly, during a 13th-century Mongolian invasion of Japan, Nichiren gave a sun banner to the shōgun to carry into battle.[18]

One of Japan's oldest flags is housed at the Unpo-ji temple in Yamanashi Prefecture. Legend states it was given by Emperor Go-Reizei to Minamoto no Yoshimitsu and has been treated as a family treasure by the Takeda clan for the past 1,000 years,[19] and at least it is older than 16th century.

The earliest recorded flags in Japan date from the unification period in the late 16th century. The flags belonged to each daimyō and were used primarily in battle. Most of the flags were long banners usually charged with the mon (family crest) of the daimyō lord. Members of the same family, such as a son, father, and brother, had different flags to carry into battle. The flags served as identification, and were displayed by soldiers on their backs and horses. Generals also had their own flags, most of which differed from soldiers' flags due to their square shape.[20][page needed]

In 1854, during the Tokugawa shogunate, Japanese ships were ordered to hoist the Hinomaru to distinguish themselves from foreign ships.[17] Before then, different types of Hinomaru flags were used on vessels that were trading with the U.S. and Russia.[8] The Hinomaru was decreed the merchant flag of Japan in 1870 and was the legal national flag from 1870 to 1885, making it the first national flag Japan adopted.[21][22]

While the idea of national symbols was strange to the Japanese, the Meiji Government needed them to communicate with the outside world. This became especially important after the landing of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry in Yokohama Bay.[23] Further Meiji Government implementations gave more identifications to Japan, including the anthem Kimigayo and the imperial seal.[24] In 1885, all previous laws not published in the Official Gazette of Japan were abolished.[25] Because of this ruling by the new cabinet of Japan, the Hinomaru was the de facto national flag since no law was in place after the Meiji Restoration.[26]

Early conflicts and the Pacific War[edit]

A family gathers around a young boy in a military uniform, surrounded by banners and flags. Some of the children also hold flags.
1930s photo of a military enrollment. The Hinomaruis displayed on the house and held by several children.
Three children holding flags in front of a building and a rising sun
Propagandaposter promoting harmony among Japanese, Chinese, and Manchu. The caption in Chinese (read right to left) reads "With the cooperation of Japan, China, and Manchukuo, the world can be in peace".

The use of the national flag grew as Japan sought to develop an empire, and the Hinomaru was present at celebrations after victories in the First Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars. The flag was also used in war efforts throughout the country.[27] A Japanese propaganda film in 1934 portrayed foreign national flags as incomplete or defective with their designs, while the Japanese flag is perfect in all forms.[28] In 1937, a group of girls from Hiroshima Prefecture showed solidarity with Japanese soldiers fighting in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, by eating "flag meals" that consisted of an umeboshi in the middle of a bed of rice. The Hinomaru bento became the main symbol of Japan's war mobilization and solidarity with her soldiers until the 1940s.[29]

Japan's early victories in the Sino-Japanese War resulted in the Hinomaru again being used for celebrations. It was seen in the hands of every Japanese during parades.[27]

Textbooks during this period also had the Hinomaru printed with various slogans expressing devotion to the Emperor and the country. Patriotism was taught as a virtue to Japanese children. Expressions of patriotism, such as displaying the flag or worshiping the Emperor daily, were all part of being a "good Japanese."[30]

The flag was a tool of Japanese imperialism in the occupied Southeast Asian areas during the Second World War: people had to use the flag,[31] and schoolchildren sang Kimigayo in morning flag raising ceremonies.[32] Local flags were allowed for some areas such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Manchukuo.[33][34][35] In Korea which was part of the Empire of Japan, the Hinomaru and other symbols were used to declare that the Koreans were subjects of the empire.[36]

During the Pacific War, Americans coined the derogatory term "meatballs" for the Hinomaru and Japanese military aircraft insignia.[37] To the Japanese, the Hinomaru was the "Rising Sun flag that would light the darkness of the entire world."[38] To Westerners, it was one of the Japanese military's most powerful symbols.[39]

U.S. occupation[edit]

Men in military dress watch a flag being lowered.
The Hinomaruis lowered in Seoul, Korea, on September 9, 1945, the day of the surrender.

The Hinomaru was the de facto flag of Japan throughout World War II and the occupation period.[26] During the occupation of Japan after World War II, permission from the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAPJ) was needed to fly the Hinomaru.[40][41] Sources differ on the degree to which the use of the Hinomaru flag was restricted; some use the term "banned;"[42][43] however, while the original restrictions were severe, they did not amount to an outright ban.[26]

After World War II, an ensign was used by Japanese civil ships of the United States Naval Shipping Control Authority for Japanese Merchant Marines.[44] Modified from the "E" signal code, the ensign was used from September 1945 until the U.S. occupation of Japan ceased.[45] U.S. ships operating in Japanese waters used a modified "O" signal flag as their ensign.[46]

On May 2, 1947, General Douglas MacArthur lifted the restrictions on displaying the Hinomaru in the grounds of the National Diet Building, on the Imperial Palace, on the Prime Minister's residence and on the Supreme Court building with the ratification of the new Constitution of Japan.[47][48] Those restrictions were further relaxed in 1948, when people were allowed to fly the flag on national holidays. In January 1949, the restrictions were abolished and anyone could fly the Hinomaru at any time without permission. As a result, schools and homes were encouraged to fly the Hinomaru until the early 1950s.[40]

Postwar to 1999[edit]

Since World War II, Japan's flag has been criticized for its association with the country's militaristic past. Similar objections have also been raised to the current national anthem of Japan, Kimigayo.[19] The feelings about the Hinomaru and Kimigayo represented a general shift from a patriotic feeling about "Dai Nippon" – Great Japan – to the pacifist and anti-militarist "Nihon". Because of this ideological shift, the flag was used less often in Japan directly after the war even though restrictions were lifted by the SCAPJ in 1949.[41][49]

As Japan began to re-establish itself diplomatically, the Hinomaru was used as a political weapon overseas. In a visit by the Emperor Hirohito and the Empress Kōjun to the Netherlands, the Hinomaru was burned by Dutch citizens who demanded that he either be sent home to Japan or tried for the deaths of Dutch prisoners of war during the Second World War.[50] Domestically, the flag was not even used in protests against a new Status of Forces Agreement being negotiated between U.S. and Japan. The most common flag used by the trade unions and other protesters was the red flag of revolt.[51]

An issue with the Hinomaru and national anthem was raised once again when Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympic Games. Before the Olympic Games, the size of the sun disc of the national flag was changed partly because the sun disc was not considered striking when it was being flown with other national flags.[41] Tadamasa Fukiura, a color specialist, chose to set the sun disc at two thirds of the flag's length. Fukiura also chose the flag colors for the 1964 as well as the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano.[52]

In 1989, the death of Emperor Hirohito once again raised moral issues about the national flag. Conservatives felt that if the flag could be used during the ceremonies without reopening old wounds, they might have a chance to propose that the Hinomaru become the national flag without being challenged about its meaning.[53] During an official six-day mourning period, flags were flown at half staff or draped in black bunting all across Japan.[54] Despite reports of protesters vandalizing the Hinomaru on the day of the Emperor's funeral,[55] schools' right to fly the Japanese flag at half-staff without reservations brought success to the conservatives.[53]

Since 1999[edit]

A page with Asian characters and a black-and-white version of the Japanese flag left above
The Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthemas it appears in the Official Gazette on August 15, 1999

The Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem was passed in 1999, choosing both the Hinomaru and Kimigayo as Japan's national symbols. The passage of the law stemmed from a suicide of the principal of Sera High School [ja] in Sera, Hiroshima, Toshihiro Ishikawa, who could not resolve a dispute between his school board and his teachers over the use of the Hinomaru and Kimigayo.[56][57] The Act is one of the most controversial laws passed by the Diet since the 1992 "Law Concerning Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations", also known as the "International Peace Cooperation Law".[58]

Prime MinisterKeizō Obuchi of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) decided to draft legislation to make the Hinomaru and Kimigayo official symbols of Japan in 2000. His Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hiromu Nonaka, wanted the legislation to be completed by the 10th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's enthronement.[59] This is not the first time legislation was considered for establishing both symbols as official. In 1974, with the backdrop of the 1972 return of Okinawa to Japan and the 1973 oil crisis, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka hinted at a law being passed enshrining both symbols in the law of Japan.[60] In addition to instructing the schools to teach and play Kimigayo, Tanaka wanted students to raise the Hinomaru flag in a ceremony every morning, and to adopt a moral curriculum based on certain elements of the Imperial Rescript on Education pronounced by the Meiji Emperor in 1890.[61] Tanaka was unsuccessful in passing the law through the Diet that year.[62]

Main supporters of the bill were the LDP and the Komeito (CGP), while the opposition included the Social Democratic Party (SDPJ) and Communist Party (JCP), who cited the connotations both symbols had with the war era. The CPJ was further opposed for not allowing the issue to be decided by the public. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) could not develop party consensus on it. DPJ President and future prime minister Naoto Kan stated that the DPJ must support the bill because the party already recognized both symbols as the symbols of Japan.[63] Deputy Secretary General and future prime minister Yukio Hatoyama thought that this bill would cause further divisions among society and the public schools. Hatoyama voted for the bill while Kan voted against it.[59]

Before the vote, there were calls for the bills to be separated at the Diet. Waseda University professor Norihiro Kato stated that Kimigayo is a separate issue more complex than the Hinomaru flag.[64] Attempts to designate only the Hinomaru as the national flag by the DPJ and other parties during the vote of the bill were rejected by the Diet.[65] The House of Representatives passed the bill on July 22, 1999, by a 403 to 86 vote.[66] The legislation was sent to the House of Councilors on July 28 and was passed on August 9. It was enacted into law on August 13.[67]

On August 8, 2009, a photograph was taken at a DPJ rally for the House of Representatives election showing a banner that was hanging from a ceiling. The banner was made of two Hinomaru flags cut and sewn together to form the shape of the DPJ logo. This infuriated the LDP and Prime Minister Tarō Asō, saying this act was unforgivable. In response, DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama (who voted for the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem)[59] said that the banner was not the Hinomaru and should not be regarded as such.[68]


Passed in 1870, the Prime Minister's Proclamation No. 57 had two provisions related to the national flag. The first provision specified who flew the flag and how it was flown; the second specified how the flag was made.[8] The ratio was seven units width and ten units length (7:10). The red disc, which represents the sun, was calculated to be three-fifths of the hoist width. The law decreed the disc to be in the center, but it was usually placed one-hundredth (1⁄100) towards the hoist.[69][70] (this makes the disc appear centered when the flag is flying; this technique is used in other flags, such as the Flag of Bangladesh). On October 3 of the same year, regulations about the design of the merchant ensign and other naval flags were passed.[71] For the merchant flag, the ratio was two units width and three units length (2:3). The size of the disc remained the same, but the sun disc was placed one-twentieth (1⁄20) towards the hoist.[72]

The flag has a ratio of two by three. The diameter of the sun is three-fifths of the height of the flag. The sun is placed directly in the center.

When the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem passed, the dimensions of the flag were slightly altered.[1] The overall ratio of the flag was changed to two units width by three units length (2:3). The red disc was shifted towards the center, but the overall size of the disc stayed the same.[2] The background of the flag is white and the center is red circle (紅色, beni iro), but the exact color shades were not defined in the 1999 law.[1] The only hint given about the red color is that it is a "deep" shade.[73]

Issued by the Japan Defense Agency (now the Ministry of Defense) in 1973 (Showa 48), specifications list the red color of the flag as 5R 4/12 and the white as N9 in the Munsell color chart.[74] The document was changed on March 21, 2008 (Heisei 20) to match the flag's construction with current legislation and updated the Munsell colors. The document lists acrylic fiber and nylon as fibers that could be used in construction of flags used by the military. For acrylic, the red color is 5.7R 3.7/15.5 and white is N9.4; nylon has 6.2R 4/15.2 for red and N9.2 for white.[74] In a document issued by the Official Development Assistance (ODA), the red color for the Hinomaru and the ODA logo is listed as DIC 156 and CMYK 0-100-90-0.[75] During deliberations about the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem, there was a suggestion to either use a bright red (赤色, aka iro) shade or use one from the color pool of the Japanese Industrial Standards.[76]

Color chart[edit]

Use and customs[edit]

When the Hinomaru was first introduced, the government required citizens to greet the Emperor with the flag. There was some resentment among the Japanese over the flag, resulting in some protests. It took some time for the flag to gain acceptance among the people.[24]

Before World War II, all homes were required to display Hinomaru on national holidays.[26] Since the war, the display of the flag of Japan is mostly limited to buildings attached to national and local governments such as city halls; it is rarely seen at private homes or commercial buildings,[26] but some people and companies have advocated displaying the flag on holidays. Although the government of Japan encourages citizens and residents to fly the Hinomaru during national holidays, they are not legally required to do so.[79][80] Since the Emperor's 80th Birthday on December 23, 2002, the Kyushu Railway Company has displayed the Hinomaru at 330 stations.[81]

Starting in 1995, the ODA has used the Hinomaru motif in their official logo. The design itself was not created by the government (the logo was chosen from 5,000 designs submitted by the public) but the government was trying to increase the visualization of the Hinomaru through their aid packages and development programs. According to the ODA, the use of the flag is the most effective way to symbolize aid provided by the Japanese people.[82]

Hinomaru Yosegaki[edit]

During World War II in Japanese culture, it was a popular custom for friends, classmates, and relatives of a deploying soldier to sign a Hinomaru and present it to him. The flag was also used as a good luck charm and a prayer to wish the soldier back safely from battle. One term for this kind of charm is Hinomaru Yosegaki (日の丸寄せ書き).[83] One tradition is that no writing should touch the sun disc.[84] After battles, these flags were often captured or later found on deceased Japanese soldiers. Some of these flags have become souvenirs,[84] and some are being returned to Japan and the descendants of the deceased.[85]

In modern times, the "Hinomaru Yosegaki" is still being used. The tradition of signing the Hinomaru as a good luck charm still continues, though in a limited fashion. The Hinomaru Yosegaki is shown at sporting events to give support to the Japanese national team.[86] The Yosegaki (group effort flag, 寄せ書き) is used for campaigning soldiers,[87] athletes, retirees, transfer students in a community and for friends. The colored paper and flag has writing with a message. In modern Japan, it is given as a present to a person at a send-off party, for athletes, a farewell party for colleagues or transfer students, for graduation and retirement. After natural disasters such as the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami people write notes on a Hinomaru Yosegaki to show support.


The hachimaki (鉢巻, "helmet-scarf") is a white headband (bandana) with the red sun in the middle. Phrases are usually written on it. It is worn as a symbol of perseverance, effort, and/or courage by the wearer. These are worn on many occasions by for example sports spectators, women giving birth, students in cram school, office workers,[88] tradesmen taking pride in their work etc. During World War II, the phrases "Certain Victory" (必勝, Hisshō) or "Seven Lives" was written on the hachimaki and worn by kamikaze pilots. This denoted that the pilot was willing to die for his country.[89]

Hinomaru Bentō[edit]

A bentō and makunouchi are types of Japanese lunch boxes. It can have Hinomaru rice (日の丸ご飯, Hinomaru gohan). It consists of gohan (steamed white rice) with a red umeboshi (dried ume) in the center which represents the sun and the flag of Japan. A Hinomaru lunch box (日の丸弁当, Hinomaru bentō) only has white rice and a red umeboshi in the center. The salty, vinegar soaked umeboshi acts as a preservative for the rice. There are also hinomaru rice bowls which are less common.[90]

Crustaceans with the Hinomaru[edit]

There are multiple crustaceans with the hinomaru (circle of the sun) shape. Such as the Hinomaru Shogun Shrimp (ヒノマルショウグンエビ, Hinomaru Shogun Ebi) (Astacidea), Hinomaru Teppo Shrimp (ヒノマルテッポウエビ, Hinomaru Teppo Ebi) (Caridea) and the Hinomaru princess horizontal shears (ヒノマルヒメヨコバサミ, Hinomaru Himeyokobasami) (Anomura). The Caridea Alpheus shrimp has an abdominal segment with a type of Japanese flag-shaped crest.[citation needed]

Culture and perception[edit]

A group of people wave Japanese flags at a palace.
Emperor Akihitogreets the flag-waving crowd at the Imperial Palace on his birthday. Photo taken on December 23, 2016.

According to polls conducted by mainstream media, most Japanese people had perceived the flag of Japan as the national flag even before the passage of the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem in 1999.[91] Despite this, controversies surrounding the use of the flag in school events or media still remain. For example, liberal newspapers such as Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun often feature articles critical of the flag of Japan, reflecting their readerships' political spectrum.[92] To other Japanese, the flag represents the time where democracy was suppressed when Japan was an empire.[93]

The display of the national flag at homes and businesses is also debated in Japanese society. Because of its association with uyoku dantai (right wing) activists, reactionary politics, or hooliganism, most homes and businesses do not fly the flag.[26] There is no requirement to fly the flag on any national holiday or special events. The town of Kanazawa, Ishikawa, has proposed plans in September 2012 to use government funds to buy flags with the purpose of encouraging citizens to fly the flag on national holidays.[94] The Japanese Communist Party is vocally against the flag.

Negative perceptions of the national flag exist in former colonies of Japan as well as within Japan itself, such as in Okinawa. In one notable example of this, on October 26, 1987, an Okinawan supermarket owner burned the flag before the start of the National Sports Festival of Japan.[95] The flag burner, Shōichi Chibana, burned the Hinomaru not only to show opposition to atrocities committed by the Japanese army and the continued presence of U.S. forces, but also to prevent it from being displayed in public.[96] Other incidents in Okinawa included the flag being torn down during school ceremonies and students refusing to honor the flag as it was being raised to the sounds of "Kimigayo".[27] In the capital city of Naha, Okinawa, the Hinomaru was raised for the first time since the return of Okinawa to Japan to celebrate the city's 80th anniversary in 2001.[97] In the People's Republic of China and Republic of Korea, both of which had been occupied by the Empire of Japan, the 1999 formal adoption of the Hinomaru was met with reactions of Japan moving towards the right and also a step towards re-militarization. The passage of the 1999 law also coincided with the debates about the status of the Yasukuni Shrine, U.S.-Japan military cooperation and the creation of a missile defense program. In other nations that Japan occupied, the 1999 law was met with mixed reactions or glossed over. In Singapore, the older generation still harbors ill feelings toward the flag while the younger generation does not hold similar views. The Philippine government not only believed that Japan was not going to revert to militarism, but the goal of the 1999 law was to formally establish two symbols (the flag and anthem) in law and every state has a right to create national symbols.[98] Japan has no law criminalizing the burning of the Hinomaru, but foreign flags cannot be burned in Japan.[99][100]


A diagram of a white flag with a black ring. A black ribbon and ball appear above the flag.
Diagram published with Regulation 1 from 1912 (Raising Mourning Flag for the Emperor)

According to protocol, the flag may fly from sunrise until sunset; businesses and schools are permitted to fly the flag from opening to closing.[101] When flying the flags of Japan and another country at the same time in Japan, the Japanese flag takes the position of honor and the flag of the guest country flies to its right. Both flags must be at the same height and of equal size. When more than one foreign flag is displayed, Japan's flag is arranged in the alphabetical order prescribed by the United Nations.[102] When the flag becomes unsuitable to use, it is customarily burned in private.[101] The Law Regarding the National Flag and Anthem does not specify on how the flag should be used, but different prefectures came up with their own regulations to use the Hinomaru and other prefectural flags.[103][104]


The Hinomaru flag has at least two mourning styles. One is to display the flag at half-staff (半旗, Han-ki), as is common in many countries. The offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also hoist the flag at half-staff when a funeral is performed for a foreign nation's head of state.[105]

An alternative mourning style is to wrap the spherical finial with black cloth and place a black ribbon, known as a mourning flag (弔旗, Chō-ki), above the flag. This style dates back to the death of Emperor Meiji on July 30, 1912, and the Cabinet issued an ordinance stipulating that the national flag should be raised in mourning when the Emperor dies.[106] The Cabinet has the authority to announce the half-staffing of the national flag.[107]

See also: ja:大喪中ノ国旗掲揚方

Public schools[edit]

A group of people facing a man and woman on a stage. Two flags are above the stage.
A graduation ceremony in Hokkaido Prefecturewith both the Hinomaruand the flag of Hokkaido Prefecture. The school's own flag is on a staff to the speakers' right.

Since the end of World War II, the Ministry of Education has issued statements and regulations to promote the usage of both the Hinomaru and Kimigayo (national anthem) at schools under their jurisdiction. The first of these statements was released in 1950, stating that it was desirable, but not required, to use both symbols. This desire was later expanded to include both symbols on national holidays and during ceremonial events to encourage students on what national holidays are and to promote defense education.[41] In a 1989 reform of the education guidelines, the LDP-controlled government first demanded that the flag must be used in school ceremonies and that proper respect must be given to it and to Kimigayo.[108] Punishments for school officials who did not follow this order were also enacted with the 1989 reforms.[41]

The 1999 curriculum guideline issued by the Ministry of Education after the passage of the Law Regarding the National Flag and Anthem decrees that "on entrance and graduation ceremonies, schools must raise the flag of Japan and instruct students to sing the Kimigayo, given the significance of the flag and the song."[109] Additionally, the ministry's commentary on the 1999 curriculum guideline for elementary schools note that "given the advance of internationalization, along with fostering patriotism and awareness of being Japanese, it is important to nurture school children's respectful attitude toward the flag of Japan and Kimigayo as they grow up to be respected Japanese citizens in an internationalized society."[110] The ministry also stated that if Japanese students cannot respect their own symbols, then they will not be able to respect the symbols of other nations.[111]

Schools have been the center of controversy over both the anthem and the national flag.[42] The Tokyo Board of Education requires the use of both the anthem and flag at events under their jurisdiction. The order requires school teachers to respect both symbols or risk losing their jobs.[112] Some have protested that such rules violate the Constitution of Japan, but the Board has argued that since schools are government agencies, their employees have an obligation to teach their students how to be good Japanese citizens.[19] As a sign of protest, schools refused to display the Hinomaru at school graduations and some parents ripped down the flag.[42] Teachers have unsuccessfully brought criminal complaints against Tokyo Governor Shintarō Ishihara and senior officials for ordering teachers to honor the Hinomaru and Kimigayo.[113] After earlier opposition, the Japan Teachers Union accepts the use of both the flag and anthem; the smaller All Japan Teachers and Staffs Union still opposes both symbols and their use inside the school system.[114]

Related flags[edit]

Main article: List of Japanese flags

Military flags[edit]

See also: Rising Sun Flag

An illustration of the Japanese army occupying Khabarovsk, 1920. Both Hinomaru and the Rising Sun Flag (in background) are depicted

The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force use the Rising Sun Flag with eight red rays extending outward, called Hachijō-Kyokujitsuki (八条旭日旗). A gold border is situated partially around the edge.[115]

A well-known variant of the sun disc design is the sun disc with 16 red rays in a Siemens star formation, which was also historically used by Japan's military, particularly the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy. The ensign, known in Japanese as the error: {{nihongo}}: Japanese or romaji text required (help), was first adopted as the war flag on May 15, 1870, and was used until the end of World War II in 1945. It was re-adopted on June 30, 1954, and is now used as the war flag and naval ensign of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).[115]JSDF Chief of Staff Katsutoshi Kawano said the Rising Sun Flag is the Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors' "pride".[116] Due to its continued use by the Imperial Japanese Army, this flag carries the negative connotation similar to the Nazi flag in China and Korea.[117] These formerly colonised countries state that this flag is a symbol of Japanese imperialism during World War II, and is an ongoing conflict event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The JMSDF also employs the use of a masthead pennant. First adopted in 1914 and readopted in 1965, the masthead pennant contains a simplified version of the naval ensign at the hoist end, with the rest of the pennant colored white. The ratio of the pennant is between 1:40 and 1:90.[118]

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), established independently in 1952, has only the plain sun disc as its emblem.[119] This is the only branch of service with an emblem that does not invoke the rayed Imperial Standard. However, the branch does have an ensign to fly on bases and during parades. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force flag was first adopted in 1955 after the JASDF was created in 1954. The flag is cobalt blue with a gold winged eagle on top of a combined star, the moon, the Hinomaru sun disc and clouds.[120][121] The latest version of the JASDF flag was re-adopted on 19 March 2001.[122]

Although not an official national flag, the Z signal flag played a major role in Japanese naval history. On May 27, 1905, Admiral Heihachirō Tōgō of the Mikasa was preparing to engage the Russian Baltic Fleet. Before the Battle of Tsushima began, Togo raised the Z flag on the Mikasa and engaged the Russian fleet, winning the battle for Japan. The raising of the flag said to the crew the following: "The fate of Imperial Japan hangs on this one battle; all hands will exert themselves and do their best." The Z flag was also raised on the aircraft carrier Akagi on the eve of the Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in December 1941.[123]

Imperial flags[edit]

A golden flower centered on a red background
The standard of the Japanese Emperor

Starting in 1870, flags were created for the Japanese Emperor (then Emperor Meiji), the Empress, and for other members of the imperial family.[124] At first, the Emperor's flag was ornate, with a sun resting in the center of an artistic pattern. He had flags that were used on land, at sea, and when he was in a carriage. The imperial family was also granted flags to be used at sea and while on land (one for use on foot and one carriage flag). The carriage flags were a monocolored chrysanthemum, with 16 petals, placed in the center of a monocolored background.[71] These flags were discarded in 1889 when the Emperor decided to use the chrysanthemum on a red background as his flag. With minor changes in the color shades and proportions, the flags adopted in 1889 are still in use by the imperial family.[125][126]

The current Emperor's flag is a 16-petal chrysanthemum (called Kikkamon, Japanese:菊花紋), colored in gold, centered on a red background with a 2:3 ratio. The Empress uses the same flag, except the shape is that of a swallow tail. The crown prince and the crown princess use the same flags, except with a smaller chrysanthemum and a white border in the middle of the flags.[127] The chrysanthemum has been associated with the Imperial throne since the rule of Emperor Go-Toba in the 12th century, but it did not become the exclusive symbol of the Imperial throne until 1868.[124]

Subnational flags[edit]

Each of the 47 prefectures of Japan has its own flag which, like the national flag, consists of a symbol – called a mon – charged upon a monocolored field (except for Ehime Prefecture, where the background is bicolored).[128] There are several prefecture flags, such as Hiroshima's, that match their specifications to the national flag (2:3 ratio, mon placed in the center and is 3⁄5 the length of the flag).[129] Some of the mon display the name of the prefecture in Japanese characters; others are stylized depictions of the location or another special feature of the prefecture. An example of a prefectural flag is that of Nagano, where the orange katakana character ナ (na) appears in the center of a white disc. One interpretation of the mon is that the na symbol represents a mountain and the white disc, a lake. The orange color represents the sun while the white color represents the snow of the region.[130]

Municipalities can also adopt flags of their own. The designs of the city flags are similar to the prefectural flags: a mon on a monocolored background. An example is the flag of Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture: the city symbol is composed of the Katakana character ア (a) and surrounded by waves.[131] This symbol is centered on a white flag, with a ratio of 2:3.[132] Both the city emblem and the flag were adopted in 2006.[132]


Former Japan Post flag (1872–1887)
Flag of the Association of Evenksin the Sakha Republic, composites the Flag of Japan and other elements.

In addition to the flags used by the military, several other flag designs were inspired by the national flag. The former Japan Post flag consisted of the Hinomaru with a red horizontal bar placed in the center of the flag. There was also a thin white ring around the red sun. It was later replaced by a flag that consisted of the 〒 postal mark in red on a white background.[133]

Two recently designed national flags resemble the Japanese flag. In 1971, Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan, and it adopted a national flag that had a green background, charged with an off-centered red disc that contained a golden map of Bangladesh. The current flag, adopted in 1972, dropped the golden map and kept everything else. The Government of Bangladesh officially calls the red disc a circle;[134] the red color symbolizes the blood that was shed to create their country.[135] The island nation of Palau uses a flag of similar design, but the color scheme is completely different. While the Government of Palau does not cite the Japanese flag as an influence on their national flag, Japan did administer Palau from 1914 until 1944.[136] The flag of Palau is an off-centered golden-yellow full moon on a sky blue background.[137] The moon stands for peace and a young nation while the blue background represents Palau's transition to self-government from 1981 to 1994, when it achieved full independence.[138]

The Japanese naval ensign also influenced other flag designs. One such flag design is used by the Asahi Shimbun. At the bottom hoist of the flag, one quarter of the sun is displayed. The kanji character 朝 is displayed on the flag, colored white, covering most of the sun. The rays extend from the sun, occurring in a red and white alternating order, culminating in 13 total stripes.[139][140] The flag is commonly seen at the National High School Baseball Championship, as the Asahi Shimbun is a main sponsor of the tournament.[141] The rank flags and ensigns of the Imperial Japanese Navy also based their designs on the naval ensign.[142]


  • Japanese flag at the Meiji Memorial.

  • Flags of Japan and other G7 states flying in Toronto.

  • A series of Japanese flags in a school entrance.

  • Yokohama City (left) and the Hinomaru (center) flying on Yokohama Harbor.

  • Firefighters in Tokyo holding the Japanese national flag during a ceremony.

  • Large flags of Japan at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium during the final match of the East Asian Football Championship.(February 14, 2010)

See also[edit]



  1. ^As the civil ensign by Proclamation No. 57.
  2. ^As the national flag and slight modifications to the design of the flag.


  1. ^ abcd国旗及び国歌に関する法律
  2. ^ ab Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco. Basic / General Information on Japan; 2008-01-01 [archived 2012-12-11; Retrieved 2009-11-19].
  3. ^郵船商船規則  (in Japanese). Government of Japan – via Wikisource.
  4. ^"法令全書". Act of October 27, 1870 (in Japanese). National Diet. doi:10.11501/787950. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  5. ^ Yamanashi Tourism Organization. 日の丸の御旗 [archived 2011-10-01; Retrieved 2011-07-17].(in Japanese)
  6. ^ Unpoji. 宝物殿の案内 [archived 2011-11-04; Retrieved 2011-07-17].(in Japanese)
  7. ^Little-Known Wars of Great and Lasting Impact: The Turning Points in Our History We Should Know More About. Fair Winds; 2009. ISBN 1-59233-375-3. p. 54.
  8. ^ abc Web Japan. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. National Flag and Anthem [PDF]; 2000 [archived 2010-06-15; Retrieved 2009-12-11].
  9. ^Dyer 1909, p. 24
  10. ^Edgington 2003, pp. 123–124
  11. ^Ashkenazi 2003, pp. 112–113
  12. ^Hall 1996, p. 110
  13. ^森浩一著「日本神話の考古学」(朝日新聞出版 1993年7月)
  14. ^「日本古典文学大系 2 風土記」(岩波書店 1958年4月)の伊勢国風土記逸文に、神武天皇が伊勢国造の祖の天日別命に命じて伊勢国に攻め込ませ、国津神の伊勢津彦を追い出して伊勢を平定したとある。
  15. ^熊野からでは北に向かって戦う事になる。このため鈴木眞年のように、伊勢まで行って西から大和盆地に侵攻したとする説もある。
  16. ^泉欣七郎、千田健共編『日本なんでもはじめ』ナンバーワン、1985年、149頁、ISBN 4931016065
  17. ^ abItoh 2003, p. 205
  18. ^Feldman 2004, pp. 151–155
  19. ^ abcHongo, Jun. Hinomaru, 'Kimigayo' express conflicts both past and future. The Japan Times. 2007-07-17 [archived 2012-07-18; Retrieved 2008-01-11].
  20. ^Turnbull 2001
  21. ^Goodman, Neary 1996, pp. 77–78
  22. ^ National Diet Library. レファレンス事例詳細 [Reference Case Details]; 2009-07-02 [archived 2011-07-20; Retrieved 2009-11-20]. (in Japanese).
  23. ^Feiler 2004, p. 214
  24. ^ abOhnuki-Tierney 2002, pp. 68–69
  25. ^Rohl 2005, p. 20
  26. ^ abcdefBefu 1992, pp. 32–33
  27. ^ abcBefu 2001, pp. 92–95
  28. ^Nornes 2003, p. 81
  29. ^Cwiertka 2007, pp. 117–119
  30. ^Partner 2004, pp. 55–56
  31. ^Tipton 2002, p. 137
  32. ^Newell 1982, p. 28
  33. ^ The Camera Overseas: The Japanese People Voted Against Frontier Friction. TIME. 1937-06-21 [archived 2011-12-14; Retrieved 2010-01-19]:75.
  34. ^ National Historical Institute. The Controversial Philippine National Flag [PDF]; 2008 [archived 2009-06-01; Retrieved 2010-01-19].
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Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Japan
Meaning of Japanese flag【Japanese commentary】

  • When was the Japanese flag first created? Who created it?
    There are various stories about when the hinomaru (meaning "sun circle"), now the Japanese national flag, was first used. Many historians think the flag, made up of a red circle on a white background, first appeared during a war in the twelfth century. The flag was officially adopted by Japan in August 1999, when the National Flag and Anthem Law was enacted by the Diet (Japan's national assembly).

  • What does the Japanese flag mean?
    The Japanese flag is made up of a red circle, symbolizing the sun, against a white background. It is known as the hinomaru in Japanese, meaning "circle of the sun." Because Japan lies at the far West of the Pacific Ocean, the sun rises spectacularly over the sea to the East. That is the inspiration for the design of the flag.

  • What is the Japanese national anthem called?
    The Japanese national anthem, which became officially recognized as such in 1999, is called "Kimigayo." The national flag was also just officially established in 1999 and is called the Hinomaru.

  • What are Japan's national animal and national badge (emblem/coat of arms)?
    Japan has no coat of arms, but the Japanese Imperial family's crest, the chrysanthemum, is used on the cover of passports for Japanese citizens. Japan does not have a designated national animal.

  • Does Japan have a national flower or bird?
    There is no official national flower or bird. Some people say the unofficial national flower of Japan is the chrysanthemum, which has long been a symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family. However, most say that the sakura (cherry blossom) is the national flower because so many Japanese love to watch and celebrate these flowers in the spring cherry-blossom season. There are also several candidates for Japan's unofficial national bird, such as the ibis. The crane is also a very popular bird in Japan and often appears in Japanese art. However, most people say the national bird is the kiji (green pheasant), shown above.

  • How did Japan get its name "land of the rising sun?"
    Japan lies to the east of the Eurasian continent, and beyond Japan lies the Pacific Ocean. So from the continental point of view, Japan is in the direction of the sunrise. This is why the Japanese began to call their country Nihon or Nippon, literally meaning "source of the sun" and often translated into English as "land of the rising sun."

  • How many prime ministers have there been since 1990, and what are their names?
    There have been 12 prime ministers since 1990. Starting with the most recent and the dates they came to office, they are: Aso Taro (9/2008); Fukuda Yasuo (9/2007); Abe Shinzo (9/2006); Koizumi Junichiro (4/2001); Mori Yoshiro (4/2000); Obuchi Keizo (7/1998); Hashimoto Ryutaro (1/1996); Murayama Tomiichi (6/1994); Hata Tsutomu (4/1994); Hosokawa Morihiro (8/1993); Miyazawa Kiichi (11/1991); and Kaifu Toshiki (8/1989) (updated in October 2008).

  • Who is the current prime minister of Japan?
    The current prime minister is Aso Taro, who was elected leader of the LDP, and hence Japan's prime minister in September 2008 (updated in October 2008).

  • What are the term limits for members of the Diet?
    Members of the House of Representatives are elected to four-year terms; members of the House of Councillors are elected to six-year terms. For more information about the Japanese system of government, go to Government.

  • What kind of health care system is in place in Japan?
    All Japanese citizens, as well as foreigners living in Japan, have the right to be covered under one of six health insurance plans. The main ones are the employees' health insurance (for private-sector employees) and the national health insurance (for people who don't qualify for any of the other plans). Members of these plans usually have to pay between 10% and 30% of their medical expenses.

Sours: https://web-japan.org/kidsweb/faq/society01.html

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Tokyo 2020: Why some people want the rising sun flag banned

By Andreas Illmer
BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Fans cheering in a stadium and waving a flag is a staple sight at any international sports event.

But what if a flag is so offensive to some countries it sparks a whole movement to get it banned?

That is what's happening with Japan's rising sun flag and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. And the strongest criticism is from South Korea - where some politicians even compare it to the Nazi swastika.

Critics say the flag is flown by fans who want to romanticise and rewrite the human rights abuses by Japanese forces.

South Korea wants it banned at the games - but the 2020 organisers say the flag is "widely used in Japan" and is "not a political statement".

What is the rising sun flag?

Japan's national flag is simply a red disc on a white background - and no-one has a problem with that one.

Image source, Getty Images

The rising sun flag has a similar red disc but with 16 red rays coming from it. Both flags have in fact been used for a long time, dating back centuries.

During the 19th Century, the rising sun symbol became the flag of the military. As such, it was flying during Japan's imperialist expansion when it occupied Korea and part of China.

During World War Two, it became the flag of the navy - and that's largely where it got its controversial reputation. Japanese troops occupied much of Asia during the war, carrying out atrocities against local people.

Today, it's still the flag of the country's navy and a slightly different version is used for the regular military.

Why is South Korea unhappy with it?

In 1905, Japan occupied Korea as a protectorate, and five years later as a full-fledged colony.

The Japanese rule was one of economic exploitation and hundreds of thousands of Koreans were pressed into forced labour to aid the Japanese expansion in other parts of Asia.

The brutal regime also saw thousands of girls and young women forced to work in military brothels set up for Japanese soldiers before and during World War Two.

Known euphemistically as "comfort women", they were forced into sexual slavery. Aside from Korean victims, the Japanese army also forced girls from Taiwan, China and the Philippines into the brothels.

Many South Koreans associate the rising sun flag with a long list of war crimes and oppression - and see Japan's continued use of the symbol as emblematic of Tokyo's failure to address its past.

Image source, Mary Evans Picture Library

The flag is "one thread in a tapestry of other South Korean complaints regarding Japan's perceived inability - or unwillingness - to accept responsibility for colonial transgressions," explains Korea analyst Ellen Swicord.

South Korea's foreign ministry has described the flag as a symbol of Japanese "imperialism and militarism".

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee for sports said it was "akin to a symbol of the devil to Asians and Koreans, just like the swastika is a symbol of Nazis which reminds European of invasion of horror".

Why no protest from China?

Based on a historical experience of Japanese invasion, China's reaction to the rising sun flag at the Olympics could be similar to South Korea's.

After the Japanese military took the Chinese city of Nanjing in 1937, Japanese troops embarked on a months-long campaign of murder, rape and looting in what became one of the worst massacres of the war.

According to Chinese estimates, around 300,000 people were killed, many of them women and children, and around 20,000 women raped. Yet there's little protest from China about the flag.

The reason is simple politics, explains Prof David Arase, from the Nanjing campus of Johns Hopkins University.

Chinese media is state-controlled and Beijing is currently working to improve ties with Tokyo. In fact, Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to visit Japan in the spring to meet the new Japanese emperor.

"That means China does not make a big issue out of it, and hence people wouldn't be primed for any outrage over that flag," Mr Arase says.

Is it comparable to the swastika?

There are arguments for and against.

The rising sun flag has been used as a traditional national symbol of Japan for centuries, and appears in advertisements and on commercial products.

In Germany, the swastika was only used when the Nazis were in power. It is now banned in Germany, and the Nazi symbol is only used by extremist groups.

Yet even though the rising sun flag has a longer history, "no-one in Japan uses the rising sun flag for any purpose other than romanticising and rewriting the horrible human rights abuses committed under the Japanese empire," argues Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo.

He suggests a better comparison than the swastika is the Confederate flag in the US. That flag was used in the American civil war by southern states that wanted to keep slavery.

The flag is not banned, and is still flown across southern states, but critics say it is a symbol of racial segregation - and perceived superiority.

Why won't Japan ban the flag?

Despite pressure from South Korea, there has been no concession from Japan so far.

There is even an explanation by the foreign ministry, which looks at the overall history of the flag without any references to its role during World War Two.

"The design of the rising sun flag is widely used throughout Japan, such as 'good catch' flags used by fishermen, celebratory flags for childbirth and seasonal festivities, and flags of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels.

"Claims that the flag is an expression of political assertions or a symbol of militarism are absolutely false."

In fact, even Japan's liberal newspaper Asahi Shimbun has a version of the flag as its logo.

Is this a political move?

Japan's reluctance comes at a time where relations between South Korea and Japan are at a new low.

Over the summer, a diplomatic feud over wartime labour compensation snowballed into a full-blown trade row between the two sides.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's refusal to act is seen by some as an attempt to please an ultra-conservative faction.

"The current Japanese government is letting extreme nationalism to carry on and is tacitly supporting its expression," explains Harrison Kim, assistant professor in history at the University of Hawaii.

Yet Japan's alleged inability to properly deal with its brutal imperial past "is not the fault of the Japan alone", he says.

Rather, it's in part because the US sought to secure Tokyo as an ally during the Cold War.

"The Japanese government did not have to resort to reparations and redress that would appropriately deal with its own past," says Mr Kim.

The result, he argues, is that Japan has not implemented a permanent way of "memorialising and apologising for its imperial crimes - not in law, not in education, and not in culture".

More on this story

Sours: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-50285383

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