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The National Flag

     The national flag of Japan is called the Hi-no-Maru or the Nisshoki. Both words mean "the flag of the rising sun." The sun is represented by a red circle of a white field. The design had been used on  shrine flags and banners for many years before being adapted to a flag for indicating the nationality of Japanese ships in the sixteenth century. So well did the flag match the name of the country (meaning place from where the sun rises) that it was formally designated as the national flag for use on merchant ships in 1870. It became Japan's national flag by law in 1999.