To some they are symbols of national pride, to others icons of a militaristic past. "Kimigayo," the national anthem, and the Hinomaru, the national flag, have been perpetual sources of controversy because of their contentious historical backgrounds. Following are some basic questions and answers about the two symbols:

What do the lyrics of "Kimigayo" mean?

"Kimigayo" ("The Emperor's Reign") is based on a poem written in the Heian Period (794-1185) and contains lyrics not commonly used in modern Japanese.