The Rising Sun Flag (Kyokujitsu-ki) is the military flag of Japan. It was used as the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army and the ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy until the end of World War II. It is also presently and the war flag of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the ensign of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force .It is also waved during the Japanese New Year and in sporting events. The design is incorporated into the flag of the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun as well as banners called Tairyō-ki (Good Catch Flag) flown by fishermen.
The design is similar to the flag of Japan in that it has a red circle close to the middle signifying the sun, the difference being the addition of extra sun rays (16 for the ensign) exemplifying the name of Japan as "The Land of the Rising Sun".
The Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy both had a version of the flag; the naval ensign was off-set, with the red sun closer to the lanyard side, while the army's version (which was part of the regimental colors) was centered. It was adopted in 1889.
The flag was used in overseas actions from the Meiji period to World War II. When Japan was defeated in August 1945, the flag was banned by Allied Occupation authorities. However with the re-establishment of a Self-Defense Force the flag was re-adopted in 1954. The flag with 16 rays is today the ensign of the Maritime Self-Defense Force while the Ground Self-Defense Force uses an 8 ray version.