What does the colour and symbol stand for on Japan's flag?

Written by lisa jensen
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What does the colour and symbol stand for on Japan's flag?
Japan's flag features a red sun on a pure white background. (Japan image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com)

Japan is the land of the rising sun. The red circle on Japan's flag symbolises the sun rising in the east. The red sun symbolises brightness, sincerity and warmth. The white background represents purity and honesty.

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In Japan, the national flag is known as the "Hinomaru" or sun disc. It is also called "Nihon no Kokki" or flag of Japan and "Nisshoki" or rising sun flag.


The symbol has been the emblem of Japan for centuries. According to legend, a Buddhist priest offered the sun disc to Japan's Emperor to protect Japan from Mongol invasions in the 13th century. The flag became the national flag in 1868 but was not officially adopted until 1999.

Other flags

During World War II, the Japanese navy and army used a flag featuring the standard red disc with red rays emanating from it. This flag is a military service flag still used by the Maritime Self Defense Forces but is not the national flag of Japan.

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