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] This flag, dating from the Edo period, is used as a symbol of good fortune. 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, and the design is also incorporated into many commercial products and advertisements. However, as the flag was used by the Japanese in the conquest and occupation of East Asia and during the war in the Pacific, it is considered offensive in South Korea[3][4] and China,[5] where it is considered to be associated with Japanese militarism and imperialism.


The design is similar to the flag of Japan in that it has a red circle close to the middle signifying the sun, the difference being the addition of 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.[6] 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. It was adopted in 1889. The flag was used in overseas actions from the Meiji period to World War II. When Japan was defeated in August 1945 and the Imperial Army and Navy were dissolved, the flag fell into disuse. However with the re-establishment of a Self-Defense Force the flag was re-adopted after it was approved by the GHQ in 1954. 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 perception[edit]

The flag is considered offensive in China and South Korea,[7] where it is considered to be associated with Japanese militarism and imperialism. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Japanese fans were warned not to fly the flag as it would cause offense and trouble with the Chinese.[8][9] In Japan itself the flag is sometimes seen at sporting events[10] and protests by extreme right-wing groups.[11] The Rising Sun flag also appears on commercial product labels, such as on the cans of one variety of Asahi Breweries lager beer.[12] The design is also incorporated into the flag of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun as well as banners called Tairyō-ki (大漁旗 Good Catch Flag?) flown by fishermen.

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. ^ Radhika Seth (August 14, 2012). "Courting Controversy: Olympic Uniform resembled rising sun flag!". Japan Daily Press. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Korean lawmakers adopt resolution calling on Japan not to use rising sun flag". Korea Herald. August 29, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ Naoto Okamura (August 8, 2008). "Japan fans warned not to fly naval flag". Reuters. 
  6. ^ "海軍旗の由来". kwn.ne.jp. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Janese Silvey (April 19, 2012). "Soccer team’s use of Rising Sun flag causes stir". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ Okamura, Naoto (8 August 2008). "Japan fans warned about rising sun flag". Reuters. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  9. ^ "Japan fans warned about rising sun flag". Japan Probe. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "A great decade for Japan". FIFATV. 2012-12-18. 
  11. ^ "World: Asia-Pacific Reprise for Japan's anthem". BBC News. August 15, 1999. 
  12. ^ "Asahi Beer New Design". Japan Visitor Blog. December 12, 2011.