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Vessels sailing under the Japan Country Flag are required to have on board this flag as part of flag state requirements that derive from maritime regulations in the International Code of Signals and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. These codes are published by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as an ongoing effort to reinforce maritime safety procedures and communications to the international maritime community. Fleet management companies and ship owners are responsible to ensure that each vessel in their respective fleets have the appropriate flag signage onboard to be in compliance. This flag is used to identify the flag state a vessel is sailing under and to communicate with other vessels under the provisions of the International Code of Signals.
The Japan Country Flag is represented by a white background with a centered red circle. The Flag is designated to hold a proportional ratio of 2:3, height to length, respectively. It was formally adopted in 1999 after a few minor adjustments that were mandated. The Japan Country Flag was initially formally adopted in 1868. Tradition dates the origin of the flag to the 13th Century, when a Buddhist Priest is said to have made a present of the Sun Disc Flag to the Emperor of Japan. The red circle symbol, called a Sun Disc was used as a decoration or emblem displayed on Samurai Warriors' folding fans as far back as the 12th Century. The Japanese people considered their ruling class, and in particular their emperors to be descended directly from the Sun God. The red disc is historically a representation of that relationship and a tribute to the Sun God wherever it is displayed. The white color is meant to represent the ideals of purity and honesty. The Flag is known as Hinomaru, meaning the Sun Disc Flag.
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