Natioanal Flag of Japan
The national flag 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 the sun'), but is more commonly known in Japan as the Hinomaru (日の丸, 'Ball of the sun'). It embodies the country's sobriquet: the Land of the Rising Sun.
The Nisshoki flag is designated as the national flag in the Act on National Flag and Anthem, which was promulgated and became effective on 13 August 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 27 February 1870), and as the national flag used by the Navy under Proclamation No. 651 of Meiji 3 (issued on 27 October 1870). 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 Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, and the legitimacy of the ruling house rested on this divine appointment. 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, 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. During the Meiji Restoration, 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, and disputes about their use have led to protests and lawsuits. 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.
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. 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. (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 3 October of the same year, regulations about the design of the merchant ensign and other naval flags were passed. 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.
When the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem passed, the dimensions of the flag were slightly altered. 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. The background of the flag is white and the center is a red circle (紅色, beni iro), but the exact color shades were not defined in the 1999 law. The only hint given about the red colour is that it is a "deep" shade.
Issued by the Japan Defense Agency (now the Ministry of Defense) in 1973 (Shōwa 48), specifications list the red color of the flag as 5R 4/12 and the white as N9 in the Munsell color chart. The document was changed on 21 March 2008 (Heisei 20) to match the flag's construction with current legislation and updated the Munsell colours. 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. 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. 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.
|Official colour (White)
|Official colour (Red)
|DSP Z 8701C
|ODA Symbol Mark Guidelines