What Do the Color and Symbol on Japan’s Flag Stand For?

Yoshikazu TAKADA/CC-BY 2.0

The white on Japan’s flag represents honesty, purity of the Japanese people and integrity. The red sun disk represents the sun goddess Amaterasu who was the founder of Japan. The red disk symbolizes a bright future for the country.

The flag of Japan is called the Nisshoki or Hinomaru. Around 2,700 years ago, the sun goddess Amaterasu founded the country of Japan. It is believed that the emperor of Japan, Jimmu, was Amaterasu’s son and, therefore, he is known as the “Son of the Sun.” Japan has always been known as the “Land of the Rising Sun” due to its founder, and traditions says that the first flag was used in 701. This flag has the sun spot that is still used today, but the sun-disc flag was adopted as the country’s official flag until February of 1870.

When the Japanese prepared to enter World War II, the country’s flag became an even greater symbol of solidarity and strength and propaganda. Japanese soldiers could often be seen eating umeboshi, which is a red Japanese plum, embedded into a rectangle of white rice. On the day Japan surrendered to Allied forces, September 9, 1945, the country lowered its flag During the occupation of Japan, special permission was needed for the country to fly its flag.