|act on national flag and anthem|
as published in the official gazette
(august 15, 1999)
|ratified||august 13, 1999|
|purpose||to ratify the national flag and anthem of japan|
the act on national flag and anthem (国旗及び国歌に関する法律, kokki oyobi kokka ni kansuru hōritsu), abbreviated as 国旗国歌法, is a law that formally established japan's national flag and anthem. before its ratification on august 13, 1999, there was no official flag or anthem for japan. the nisshōki (日章旗) flag, commonly referred to as the hinomaru (日の丸), had represented japan unofficially since 1870; "kimigayo" (君が代) had been used as japan's de facto anthem since 1880.
after japan's defeat in world war ii, there were suggestions to legislate the hinomaru and kimigayo as the official symbols of japan. however, a law to establish the hinomaru and kimigayo as official in 1974 failed in the diet, due to the opposition of the japan teachers union that insists they have a connection with japanese militarism. it was suggested that both the hinomaru and kimigayo should be made official after a school principal in hiroshima committed suicide over a dispute regarding the use of the flag and anthem in a school ceremony.
after a vote in both houses of the diet, the law was passed on august 9, 1999. promulgated and enforced on august 13, 1999, it was considered one of the most controversial laws passed by the diet in the 1990s. the debate surrounding the law also revealed a split in the leadership of the opposition democratic party of japan (dpj) and the unity of the ruling liberal democratic party (ldp) and coalition partners.
the passage of the law was met with mixed reactions. although some japanese hailed the passage, others felt that it was a shift toward restoring nationalistic feelings and culture: it was passed in time for the anniversary of emperor akihito's enthronement. in the countries that japan had occupied during world war ii, some felt that the law's passage, along with debates on laws related to military affairs and yasukuni shrine, marked a shift in japan toward the political right. regulations and government orders issued in the wake of this law, especially those issued by the tokyo board of education, were also challenged in court by some japanese due to conflicts with the japanese constitution.