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Fukuda and United States President George W. Bush exchange handshakes following their first meeting at the White House, November 16, 2007.

Fukuda's cabinet was formed on September 26, 2007. In sometime 2007, Fukuda visited the United States in sometime in 2007. In meeting with President George Bush he promised the extension of its fuel mission to US Navy to

The approval rating for the cabinet was over 50%, [1] but has steadily declined since then; in December, the national polls by Kyodo news found that his approval rating was around 30%.

Current cabinet members[edit]

[2] It was almost identical to Abe's.[3]

Secretary Nobutaka Machimura
Internal Affairs Hiroya Masuda
Justice Kunio Hatoyama
Foreign Affairs Masahiko Komura
Finance Fukushiro Nukaga
Education Kisaburo Tokai
Health Yoichi Masuzoe
Agriculture Masatoshi Wakabayashi
Economy Akira Amari
Land Tetsuzo Fuyushiba
Environment Ichiro Kamoshita
Defense Shigeru Ishiba
Public Safety,
Disaster Prevention
Shinya Izumi
Economic Policy Hiroko Ota
Financial Services,
Administrative Reform
Yoshimi Watanabe
Okinawa and Northern Territories,
Technology Policy,
Regulatory Reform
Fumio Kishida
Population, Youth and Gender Equality Yoko Kamikawa



Flag of Japan.svg
NamesNisshōki (Sun Flag), Hinomaru (Sun Disc)
UseCivil and state flag, civil and state ensign
AdoptedFebruary 27, 1870 (civil ensign)
August 13, 1999 (national flag)
DesignA red disc on a white field.
Designed byNichiren (according to legend)[4]

The national flag of Japan is a base white flag with a large red disc (representing the rising sun) in the center. Its official name in Japanese is Nisshōki (日章旗, "sun flag") but the flag is more commonly known as Hinomaru (日の丸, "sun disc").

It was widely used on military banners in the Sengoku (Warring States) period of the 15th and 16th centuries. During the Meiji Restoration it was officially adopted for use as the civil ensign by Proclamation No. 57 on February 27, 1870 (27 Jan Meiji 3). However, it was not formally adopted as the national flag until August 13, 1999 by Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem. Along with the national anthem Kimi ga Yo, the Hinomaru are considered controversial symbols of the militaristic past of the country. Use of the Hinomaru was also severely restricted during the early years of the American occupation of the country after World War II, though restrictions were later relaxed. Japanese law did not designate any particular flag as the national flag from 1885 until 1999, although the Hinomaru was legally the national flag for the brief period from 1870 until 1885. Despite this, several military banners of Japan are based on the design of the Hinomaru, including the sun-rayed Naval Ensign. The design of the Hinomaru was used to design other Japanese flags for public or private use.


For a list of historical flags, see List of Japanese flags: Historical.
Admiral Togo on the bridge of the Mikasa, before the Battle of Tsushima in 1905, with the Z flag flying.

Before 1945[edit]

The exact origin of the flag of Japan is not known. However, the sun historically had a religious connotation in Japan and the notion of the rising sun had an important symbolic meaning. For example, in 607, Prince Shotoku sent a letter that began with "from the prince of the rising sun" to Emperor Yang of Sui.[5] One legend related to the national flag is attributed to Buddhist priest Nichiren. During a Mongolian invasion into Japan during the thirteenth century, Nichiren gave a sun banner to the shogun to carry into battle.[4]

One of oldest known flags of Japan is housed at the Unpo-ji template in Yamanashi Prefecture. Legend has it that the flag was given by Emperor Reizei to Minamoto no Yoshimitsu and was treated as the family treasure by Takeda clan, though the historical accuracy of this account is not without a question.[6] The earliest recorded Japanese flag in Japan occurred during the unification period. The flags belonged to each Daimyo and were used mostly for battles. Most of the designs of the flags were long banners and is usually charged with the mon of the Daimyo. Even members of the same family, such as a son, father and a brother, had different flags to carry to battle. The use of the flags were for identification and were carried by soldiers on their backs and also on their horses. Generals had their own flags, but most were square in shape.[7] The Hinomaru was legally the national flag from 1870 until 1885.[8] After the Meiji Restoration, the use of the Daimyo flags were discontinued and the flags of the modern Japanese state were used.[9] The Hinomaru was the de facto national flag, although there was no law to that effect.[10]

While not an official national flag, the Z signal flag played a major role in Japanese naval history. On May 27, 1905, Admiral Heihachiro Togo 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 raised on the aircraft carrier Akagi on the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in December of 1941.[11]

Postwar period[edit]

The Hinomaru was the de facto albeit not de jure flag throughout World War II and the occupation period.[10] During the Occupation of Japan after World War II, permission from the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers was needed to fly the Hinomaru.[12][13] Sources differ on the degree to which the use of the Hinomaru flag was restricted, with some using the term "banned."[14] However, while the original restrictions were severe, they did not amount to an outright ban.[10]

In 1947 restrictions regarding the Hinomaru were lifted with respect to its display on the grounds of the National Diet Building, Imperial Palace, Prime Minister's residence and the Supreme Court building.[15] Those restrictions were further relaxed in 1948, when people were allowed to fly the flag on national holidays. The restrictions were then totally abandoned in January 1949, after which anyone could fly the Hinomaru at any time, without requesting permission.[16] It was not until early 1950 that schools and homes were encouraged to fly the Hinomaru again.[12]

After World War II, an ensign was used by Japanese civil ships of the U.S. Naval Shipping Control Authority for Japanese Merchant Marine.[17] Modified from the "E" signal code, the ensign was used from September 1945 until the American occupation of Japan ceased.[18] This was never used as a national flag for Japan during this time period.

Since the end of World War II, there has been criticism of the flag for its association with the militaristic past of Japan. Similar objections have been raised to the current national anthem of Japan, Kimi ga Yo.[6] Along with the national flag, Kimi ga Yo was designated the national anthem in the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem in 1999.

Schools have been the center of controversy over both the anthem and the national flag. The Tokyo Board of Education requires the use of both the anthem and flag at events under their jurisdiction. The order requires school teachers respect both symbols or risk losing their jobs.[19] [20] Some have protested that such rules violate the Japanese constitution, while the Board, for its part, has argued that since schools are government agencies, their employees have an obligation to teach their students how to be good Japanese citizens.[6] Teachers have gone as far to bring criminal complaints against Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and senior officials for ordering teachers to honor the Hinomaru and Kimi ga Yo; these charges were later dismissed.[21] Despite this, private citizens are given the option to fly the Hinomaru as they wish, especially on national holidays.[22]


Construction sheet

When the Prime Minister's Proclamation No. 57 was passed in 1870, it had two provisions. The first provision dealt with who flies and how it is flown, the second dealt with how the flag is to be made.[22] The ratio, according to the proclamation, is going to be seven units high and ten units wide (7:10). The red disc, which represents the sun, is calculated to be three-fifths of the total size of the hoist length. The disc is decreed to be in the center, but is usually placed one-hundredths (1/100) towards the hoist.[23]

When the new flag law was passed on 13 August, 1999, the dimensions of the flag were altered slightly. The overall ratio of the flag was changed to two units length by three units width (2:3). The red disc was shifted towards dead center, but the overall size of the disc stayed the same.[23] The background of the flag is white and the sun disc is red, but the exact color shades were not defined in the 1999 law.[23] However, the 2000 edition of Album des pavillons suggest the sun disc is Pantone 186; the white field is not mentioned.[24]

Perception and use[edit]

Emperor Akihito prepares to greet the flag-waving crowd at the Imperial Palace on his birthday. Photo taken on 23 December 2004.

According to polls conduced by mainstream media, the majority of the Japanese people had perceived the flag of Japan as the national flag, even before it was officially designed as such in 1999.[25] Despite this, controversies surrounding the use of the flag in school events or media still remain today. 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.[26]

A bus displaying the flag of Japan.

After World War II, the display of the flag of Japan is mostly limited to buildings attached to national and local governments such as city hall, and it is rarely seen in private homes or commercial buildings.[27] On the other hand, some people or companies had advocated displaying the flag of Japan on holidays. For example, Kyushu Railway Company, beginning on December 23 in 2002 (The Emperor's Birthday), has been displaying the flag of Japan in all of its 330 manned stations.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). Also, the ministry's commentary on the 1999 curriculum guideline for elementary schools notes that "given the advance of internalization, along with fostering patriotism and awareness of being Japanese, it is important to nurture schoolchildren's respectful attitude toward the flag of Japan and Kimi Ga Yo as they grow up to be respected Japanese citizens in the internationalized societies.[28]


Japanese flag flying behind a Shinto temple in Nagasaki

When the national flag is raised, it is asked that all should face the flag and remove all head dress. It is acceptable to place the right hand on top of the heart, but the foreign tradition is a new concept in Japan. The flag is flown from sunrise until sunset, though it is allowed to fly the flag from the opening and closing of a business or an educational facility. When flying the Japanese flag with that of another country, the Japanese flag takes the position of honor and the flag of the guest country flies to its right at the same height. When more than one foreign flag is displayed, it is arranged in the alphabet order prescribed by the United Nations. When the flag becomes unsuitable to use, it is preferred to burn the flag in private.[29]

Specifically in Japan, the national flag is suggested to be flown from a pole topped by a golden sphere finial. It has been a custom since the death of Emperor Meiji that the national flag is topped by black cloth to designate mourning. To do this, you must take a piece of black cloth and first cover the sphere finial. Then, you take a larger piece of black cloth and extend it until the fly of the flag is reached. This is mostly for flags that cannot be raised or lowered. For flags that can be raised or lowered, you hoist the flag to the top, then slowly lower it to approximately halfway down the pole. The Cabinet of the Prime Minister has the authority to place the flag at half-staff. To fold the Japanese flag, it is suggested to fold it from top to bottom twice, then fold the fly end about halfway towards the hoist side of the flag. Then you roll the rest of the flag up and tie it with a string.[29]

Related flags[edit]


For a list of military flags, see List of Japanese flags: Military. See also Rising Sun Flag.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force use a version of the sun disc design with 8 red rays extending outward, called Hachijō-Kyokujitsuki (八条旭日旗). A gold border lies partially around the edge.[30]

A very well known variant of the sun disc design is the sun disc with 16 red rays, which was also historically used by Japan's military, particularly the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was first adopted as the naval ensign on October 7, 1889 and was used until the end of World War II in 1945. It was re-adopted on June 30, 1954 and is now used again as Japan's naval ensign, used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.[31] In the surrounding Asian countries which were occupied by Japan this flag still carries a negative connotation.[32] 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.[33]

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force, established independently in 1952, has only the plain sun disc as its emblem. This is the only branch of service whose emblem does not invoke the rayed Imperial Standard. However, the branch does have an ensign to fly on bases and during parades. The ensign was created in 1972, which was the third used by the JASDF since their creation. The ensign contains the emblem of the branch centered on a blue background.[34]


For a list of imperial flags, see List of Japanese flags: Imperial.
The Standard of the Japanese emperor

Starting in 1869, flags were created for the Japanese emperor, his wife (the empress), and for other members of the imperial family. 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 were also granted flags to be used at sea and while on land (one for use on foot and a carriage flag). The carriage flags were a monocolored chrysanthemum, with 16 petals, placed in the center of a monocolored background.[35] 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 being used by the imperial family.[36]

The current emperor's flag is a 16-petal chrysanthemum, 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.[37]


The prefectural flag of Nagano
The flag of Yokohama
For a list of prefectural flags, see List of Japanese flags: Prefectural.
For a list of municipal flags, see List of Japanese municipal flags.

Each of Japan's 47 prefectures has its own flag. Each resembles the national flag insofar as consisting of a symbol, called a mon, charged on a monocolored field. Some of the mon display the name of the prefecture in Japanese characters; others are stylized depictions of the location or other special feature of the prefecture. An example of a prefectural flag is that of Nagano, displayed to the right. In the center of the white disc, the orange katakana character ナ (na) appears. One interpretation of the mon is that the na symbol represents a mountain and the white disc, a lake. The orange color evokes the sun while the white color represents the snow of the region.[38][39]

Each municipality of Japan also has its own flag. The designs of the city flags are similar to the prefectural flags: a mon on a monocolored background. The example to the right is the flag of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture. The main symbol, adopted in 1909, is composed of the katakana characters for hama (ハマ). The emblem is officially colored red and appears in the shape of a diamond.[40] The background color is white and the height of the emblem is 3/5ths of the height of the flag.[41]


File:Flag of the Japanese Vexillological Association.svg
Japanese Vexillological Association flag

Other than the flags used by the military, there are several flags whose designs were inspired by the national flag.

In 2000, a new organization was established in Japan to promote vexillology inside the country. The organization, Japanese Vexillological Association (Nihon Kishougaku Kyoukai), also sought a flag and symbol to be used by the organization. Out of the sixty-one entries, a flag based on the Hinomaru was chosen. The main field of the flag is with the red sun disc resting at the upper portion of the flag. Below the sun disc are interlocking ropes,[42] which is used on the flag of the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques.[43] The joined knots represent fellowship and ropes are devices that are used to raise and lower flags.[44]

Another Japanese flag that influences other flag designs is that of the naval ensign. 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 Japanese character 朝 colored white, covers most of the sun. The rays extending from the sun occur in a red and white order; culminating in thirteen total stripes.[45] The flag is commonly seen at the national high school baseball tournament, as the Asahi Shimbun is a main sponsor of the tournament.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ {{cite news |url= |title=
  2. ^ "Members of the Abe Cabinet". Retrieved 2007-09-28. NB: Despite the title of the page it is indeed the list of members of Fukuda Cabinet.
  3. ^ Masami Ito (2007-09-26). "Fukuda elected prime minister in Diet faceoff". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  4. ^ a b Feldman, David (2004). Do Elephants Jump?. HarperCollins. pp. 151–155. ISBN 0060539135.
  5. ^ Dyer, Henry (1909). Japan in World Politics: A Study in International Dynamics. London: Blackie & Son limited. p. 24.
  6. ^ a b c Hungo, Jun (2007-07-17). "Hinomaru, 'Kimigayo' express conflicts both past and future". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  7. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (2001-03-25). Ashigaru 1467–1649. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1841761494. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  8. ^ "In 1870 the [Hinomaru] was designated as the national flag by means of a 'declaration (fukoku) by the Council of State (Daijō-kan太政官). In 1871, however, the Council was reorganized and the legislative function entrusted to the Left Chamber (Sa-in). Finally in 1885 the Council was replaced by a modern cabinet, with the result that the Council's declarations were abolished." Cripps, D. Flags and Fanfares: The Hinomaru Flag and the Kimigayo Anthem. In Goodman, Roger & Ian Neary, Case Studies on Human Rights in Japan. London:Routledge, 1996. Pages 76–108. ISBN 1873410352 Pages 77–78.
  9. ^ "Japan - Historic flags". Flags of the World. 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  10. ^ a b c For example, "The [Hinomaru] was indispensable for seeing new recruits off to war. On the day the recruit was to leave... neighbors gathered in front of his house, where the Japanese flag was displayed... all shouted banzai for the send-off, waving smaller flags." Goodman, Roger (1992). Ideology and Practice in Modern Japan. London: Routledge. p. 33. ISBN 0415061024. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  11. ^ "Japan: Z-Flag". Flags of the World. 2006-11-25. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  12. ^ a b "国旗,国歌の由来等" (in Japanese). Ministry of Education. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  13. ^ Cripps 1996, p.81: "...[before 1948] by notifying the occupation forces in an area, individuals could apply to raise the flag and, depending on the national holiday and region, the prefectural office could be given permission to raise the flag."
  14. ^ For example, Weisman 1990 and Dower 1999 (p. 226) refer to the rising sun flag as "banned," while Dower uses the term "illegal" on p. 336.
  15. ^ Shigeru Yoshida (1947-05-02). "Letter from Shigeru Yoshida to General MacArthur" (in Japanese and English). National Diet Library. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  16. ^ Hood 2001, p. 70
  17. ^ "邦人船員消滅" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  18. ^ "Japan - Postwar ensigns". Flags of the World. 2007-05-12. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  19. ^ McCurry, Justin (2006-06-05). "A touchy subject". Guardian Unlimited. The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  20. ^ Tokyo: Students must sing 'Kimigayo', Asahi Shimbun, March 15, 2006. Accessed July 29, 2006.
  21. ^ "Ishihara's Hinomaru order called legit". The Japan Times. 2006-01-05. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
  22. ^ a b Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "National Flag and Anthem". Japan Access. The Embassy of Japan in Singapore. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  23. ^ a b c "国旗及び国歌に関する法律" (in Japanese). Government of Japan. 1999-08-13. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  24. ^ du Payrat, Armand (2000-11-08). Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives. France: Service Hydrographique et Océanographique de la Marine. ISBN 2-11-088247-6.
  25. ^ テレビ朝日の世論調査の結果
  26. ^ {[cite web |url= |title=テレビニュースの多様化により、 異なる番組の固定視聴者間に生じる意見の差 |format=pdf |date=2002
  27. ^ "組合員のページ" (in Japanese). 2004. しかしながら我が国では国旗の掲揚は公共機関では祝祭日には敗戦50年を経過した今日、掲揚されるようになったが、国民の家庭では入口玄関に掲揚していた昭和10年代の光景は目につかない。
  28. ^ "小学校学習指導要領解説社会編,音楽編,特別活動編". Minister of Education. 1999.
  29. ^ a b "Flag Protocol" (in Japanese). Sargo Flag Company. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
  30. ^ "自衛隊法施行令" (in Japanese). Government of Japan. 1954-06-30. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  31. ^ "Japanese military flags - Naval Ensign". Flags of the World. 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  32. ^ 国际, 在线 (2006-08-11). "赵薇欲代言抗日网游洗刷"军旗装事件"之辱(图)". Xinhua (in Chinese). Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  33. ^ "Japanese military flags - Masthead Pennant". Flags of the World. 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  34. ^ "Air Self Defense Force (Japan)". Flags of the World. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
  35. ^ "Imperial flags, 1870-1875 (Japan)". Flags of the World. 2006-12-23. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  36. ^ "Flags of the Imperial Japanese Family (1899)". Flags of the World. 2007-02-16. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  37. ^ "皇室儀制令" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  38. ^ "Nagano (Japan)". Flags of the World. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
  39. ^ Government of the Nagano Prefecture (2006). "長野県の県章 - 県旗" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  40. ^ City of Yokohama (2006). "横浜市き章" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  41. ^ "Yokohama si (Kanagawa prefecture Japan)". Flags of the World. 2006-08-12. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
  42. ^ "Japanese Vexillological Association". Flags of the World. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  43. ^ "CONSTITUTION OF THE FÉDÉRATION INTERNATIONALE DES ASSOCIATIONS VEXILLOLOGIQUES" (PDF). Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-11.
  44. ^ "FIAV - Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques". Flags of the World. 2007-08-25. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
  45. ^ "Image of the Asahi Shimbun flag". Retrieved 2007-12-02.

External links[edit]