The Rising Sun Flag ( Kyokujitsu-ki) was originally designed for the feudal warlords in Japan during the Edo-period. However the Meiji government adapted the flag on 15th of May, 1970, as the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Later on 7th of October, 1889, the Imperial Japanese Navy used it as the Naval ensign. The flag is still used in now-a-days Japan as a symbol of tradition and good fortune. Also is it incorporated into many commercial ways, such as usage on products and in advertisements. The flag is also still used by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. The Japan Ground Self Defense Force is using a modified version. It is also viewed as a symbol of the Japanese imperialism in the early 20th century in South Korea, North Korea, China and by some US veterans.
The design itself is similar to the Japanese flag. However the Rising Sun Flag has 16 sunrays added to it, exemplifying Japan as “The land of the Rising Sun”. The Imperial started using the flag in 1870 as the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy both used the flag. However the Army version had the “Sun” centered in the flag while the Navy had the Sun closer to the lanyard side. The flag was used untill August 1945, when Japan surrendered in the second World war. However after establishing the Japanese Self Defense Forces (1954) The flag was re-adopted. The flag with the 16 rays is nowthe ensign of the Maritime Self Defense Force while an 8 ray version is used by the Ground Self Defense Force.
The Rising Sun Flag appears on many product labels, such as the cans of the Asahi Breweries Lager beer. The design is also used in the logo of the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun. Fishermen call the flag the “Tairyo-ki”, which also means the good catch flag, they use it to represent their hope for a good catch of fish.The flag is also used during sport events by the japanese supporters. Some extremely right winged groups display it at political protests.
Many see the flag as an innocent thing, wishing for luck. However the flag also has a dark side. Since the flag was used by the Imperial Japanese Military and Japan’s actions during the World War II, Many Korean and Chinese people find the flag to be offensive. They see the Sunrise flag as the European Nazi sign. Because of this, the use of the flag is considered controversial and inappropriate.
Many people protest against the flag, however, no country prohibits from using the flag by law. The South Korean Navy’s position sees no problems with the carriage of the Rising Sun flag by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Warships. If the Korean Navy would request them from refraining the usage of the flag, it would be a infringement of sovereignty. According to analysis, Korean reactions to the Rising sun flag stem from the history of the country, when Japan tried to force their nationality onto the Korean people (which you can read more about here).
What is your opinion on the flag? Do you think the flag is something innocent or do you believe it is offensive to use the Rising Sun Flag? Let us know in the comments!