NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – The city of Naha raised the Hinomaru flag on Sunday to commemorate the municipality’s 80th anniversary, the first time it has flown the flag since Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972 after 27 years of U.S. rule.
“I wanted to raise the national flag by all means,” said Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga at the flag-raising ceremony held in the courtyard of the city hall, during which the national anthem “Kimigayo” was played.
“The 20th century was a century of wars. I believe people can support each other beyond the differences in their ideologies in the 21st century,” he said.
Upon assuming the post last December, the mayor said the city would fly the Hinomaru flag at city hall, a move rejected by his predecessors.
As there had been only one flagpole in front of city hall, from which the city’s flag flies, the municipal government erected a new pole for the Hinomaru flag. Naha will now raise the Hinomaru flag from Monday through Friday along with the city flag, city officials said.
In 1999, the Diet enacted a bill which officially recognizes the Hinomaru flag as the national flag and “Kimigayo” as the anthem.
The question of whether to give official status to the Hinomaru, the rising sun flag, and “Kimigayo,” unofficially translated as “His Majesty’s Reign,” was a sensitive issue because of their association with Japan’s Imperial system and past militarism.