Japan plan flagged

The flags of New Zealand’s WW1 allies fly during the Armistice Civic Service at the Cambridge Town Hall. Photo – Michael Jeans.

The Japanese flag could fly at future Armistice Day services in Cambridge.

Japan was an ally in World War 1 and is credited with playing an important role in securing sea lanes against the German Navy. Japan sided with Germany and Italy in WWII.

The suggestion of flying Japan’s flag was raised at a debrief meeting of the Armistice committee following the 2018 Armistice Day at the Cambridge Town Hall.

During the service each November, many flags are flown, including the Turkish flag – and Turkish representatives lay a wreath. Turkey sided with Germany in the first world war and the allies in the second.

Minutes from the meeting record: “It was noted that the Japanese flag has never been flown on the day although Japan were allies in WW1, and discussion was held around why this had not been done before. It was agreed that it should be included next year.”

The flag is known as the Nisshoki or Hinomaru.

The acting chair of the Armistice Remembrance Day Committee, Julie Epps, said the decision had not been finalised and would be discussed during planning for the 2019 Armistice Day civic service.

The Deputy Consul-General of Japan, Auckland-based Yoshihiro Nakayama, was not aware of venues which fly Japan’s flag on Armistice Day but confirmed that he is invited to the Armistice Day ceremony at the Auckland War Memorial Museum every year.

“I believe introducing the Japanese flag for future Armistice Day ceremonies will be a great opportunity for people to get to know about the long history of relations between Japan and New Zealand, including the fact that the Japanese vessel Ibuki escorted New Zealand troops across the Indian Ocean during WWI,” he said.

Cambridge enjoys a sister city relationship with Bihoro in Japan.

Japanese flags have been in the news in the US this month. A story revealed that flags taken as trophies by American soldiers were being returned. Allied soldiers were unaware the flags were heirlooms – they were signed by family members and carried into battle by Japanese soldiers.

The work is being promoted by the Obon Society, which “strive[s] to heal the hearts and broken families that were a result of the war fought between America and Japan.’’

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