Rising Sun Flag

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FIAV 000001.svg Naval ensign, flown by ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1889–1945) and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. (1954–present) Flag ratio: 2:3
FIAV 001000.svg War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army. (1870–1945)

The Rising Sun Flag (旭日旗 Kyokujitsu-ki?) is the military flag of Japan.[1] The design of this flag, dating from the Edo period, is used as a symbol of good fortune, so the design is also incorporated into many commercial products and advertisements related to Japan. On January 27, 1870, as a policy of the Meiji Restoration, it was adopted as the national flag.[2] The naval ensign and a modified version of the war flag continue to be used by the Japan Self-Defense Forces.


The design is similar to the flag of Japan, which has a red circle in the center signifying the sun. The difference compared to the flag of Japan is that the Rising Sun Flag has extra sun rays (16 for the ensign) exemplifying the name of Japan as "The Land of the Rising Sun". The Imperial Japanese Army first adopted the Rising Sun Flag in 1870.[3] The Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy both had a version of the flag; the naval ensign was off-set, with the red sun closer to the lanyard side, while the army's version (which was part of the regimental colors) was centered. The flag was used until Japan's defeated in August 1945. After the establishment of the Japan Self-Defense Force in 1954, the flag was re-adopted and approved by the GHQ. The flag with 16 rays is today the ensign of the Maritime Self-Defense Force while the Ground Self-Defense Force uses an 8-ray version.[1]

Present-day use[edit]

The Rising Sun flag appears on commercial product labels, such as on the cans of one variety of Asahi Breweries lager beer.[4] The design is also incorporated into the flag of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. Among the fishermen, Tairyō-ki (大漁旗 Good Catch Flag?) shows their hope for good catch of fish. The flag is used at sporting events[5] by the supporters of Japanese team. In the political protests, extreme right-wing groups also use it.[6]

Dispute in South Korea and China[edit]

As the flag was used by the Japanese military in the conquest and occupation of East Asia and during the war in the Pacific, it is considered offensive in South Korea[7][8] and China.[9] They consider that the flag is associated with Japanese militarism and imperialism. Because of this dispute, use of the flag is considered to be a problem in these countries. For example, during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Japanese fans were warned not to fly the flag as it would cause offense and trouble with the Chinese.[10][11]

Examples of the Rising Sun design in use[edit]

United States Military[edit]

Similar flags[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Phil Nelson; various. "Japanese military flags". Flags Of The World. Flagspot. 
  2. ^ Osaka University Knowledge archive Japan’s National Flag and Anthem: Historical Significance and Legal Position [1]
  3. ^ "海軍旗の由来". kwn.ne.jp. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Asahi Beer New Design". Japan Visitor Blog. December 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "A great decade for Japan". FIFATV. 2012-12-18. 
  6. ^ "World: Asia-Pacific Reprise for Japan's anthem". BBC News. August 15, 1999. 
  7. ^ Radhika Seth (August 14, 2012). "Courting Controversy: Olympic Uniform resembled rising sun flag!". Japan Daily Press. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Korean lawmakers adopt resolution calling on Japan not to use rising sun flag". Korea Herald. August 29, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  9. ^ Naoto Okamura (August 8, 2008). "Japan fans warned not to fly naval flag". Reuters. 
  10. ^ Okamura, Naoto (8 August 2008). "Japan fans warned about rising sun flag". Reuters. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "Japan fans warned about rising sun flag". Japan Probe. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2012.