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Japanese Merchant Ensign (1800s)

Last modified: 2005-04-02 by phil nelson
Keywords: japan | merchant ensign | civil ensign | sun | star (white) fimbriated red |
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Civil and merchant ensign, 1870-1875

[Merchant ensign, 1870-1875]
by Jaume Ollé

This flag was used between Jan 27 1870 and Nov 29 1875 as a civil ensign. The merchant vessels had to hoist state flag Hinomaru as well to show Japanese nationality . However in 1875 the civil ensign was abolished since most of merchant vessels began to hoist their shipping company flag which indicates clearly the vessel did not belong to navy.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 20 February 2000

The Flag Bulletin 189, September-October 1999 discusses this flag in an article on Postal Flags of East Asia, by Robert M. Spaulding, PhD:

This 1873-1887 postal flag design with the red sun and stripe was probably based on the design of a little known flag which had a red sun and a black stripe. This was established as the "merchant ship insignia" by the Merchant Ship Regulations (Shosen Kisoku) of 27 February 1870, which also directed all Japanese merchant ships to fly the national flag. The flag (flown as a signal) was abolished only five years later, in November 1875, and very few 1870s pictures show ships flying it.

Phil Nelson, 21 February 2000

Civil and merchant ensign, 1876

[Merchant ensign, 1876]
by Jaume Ollé

Source: Japanese flag chart, circa 1876
Jaume Ollé, 12 November 1999

This flag was actually a merchant and civil flag in Hokkaido (which was called Ezo). The flag was short lived, from 9 November 1873 until 1874 when Japanese rule was completed.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 23 February 2000