Kimigayo - History - Postwar Japan (1945–present) - Since 1999

Since 1999

The Act on National Flag and Anthem was passed in 1999, choosing both the Hinomaru and "Kimigayo" as Japan's national symbols. The passage of the law stemmed from a suicide of a school principal in Hiroshima who could not resolve a dispute between his school board and his teachers over the use of the Hinomaru and "Kimigayo".

Prime Minister Keizō Obuchi of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) decided to draft legislation to make the Hinomaru and "Kimigayo" official symbols of Japan in 2000. His Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hiromu Nonaka, wanted the legislation to be completed by the 10th anniversary of the coronation of Akihito as Emperor. This is not the first time legislation was considered for establishing both symbols as official. In 1974, with the backdrop of the 1972 return of Okinawa to Japan and the 1973 oil crisis, Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei hinted at a law being passed legalizing both symbols.

Main supporters of the bill were the LDP and the Komeito (CGP), while the opposition included the Social Democratic Party (SDPJ) and Communist Party (CPJ), who cited the connotations both symbols had with the war era. The CPJ was further opposed for not allowing the issue to be decided by the public. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) could not develop party consensus on it. President of the DPJ, Naoto Kan stated that the DPJ must support the bill because the party already recognized both symbols as the symbols of Japan. Deputy Secretary General and future prime minister Yukio Hatoyama thought that this bill would cause further divisions among society and the public schools.

Before the vote, there were calls for the bills to be separated at the Diet. Waseda University professor Norihiro Kato stated that "Kimigayo" is a separate issue more complex than the Hinomaru flag. Attempts to designate only the Hinomaru as the national flag by the DPJ and other parties during the vote of the bill were rejected by the Diet. The House of Representatives passed the bill on July 22, 1999, by a 403 to 86 vote. The legislation was sent to the House of Councilors on July 28 and was passed on August 9. It was enacted into law on August 13.

Read more about this topic:  Kimigayo, History, Postwar Japan (1945–present)

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