On this day in 1870 the current flag of Japan is first adopted as the national flag for Japanese merchant ships.
The use of the national flag grew as Japan sought to develop an empire, and the Hinomaru was present at celebrations after victories in the First Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars. The flag was also used in war efforts throughout the country. A Japanese propaganda film in 1934 portrayed foreign national flags as incomplete or defective with their designs, while the Japanese flag is perfect in all forms. In 1937, a group of girls from Hiroshima Prefecture showed solidarity with Japanese soldiers fighting in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, by eating “flag meals” that consisted of an umeboshi in the middle of a bed of rice. The Hinomaru bento became the main symbol of Japan’s war mobilization and solidarity with her soldiers until the 1940s.