While there has been lots of heartburn, particularly in East Asia, about Japan’s use of their traditional 16-ray Kyokujitsu-ki rising sun flag, especially in martial settings– with some comparing it to the swastika– the Japanese Navy really don’t care about the haters.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force launched the second of the very advanced Taigei-class diesel-electric submarines this week, JS Hakugei (SS-514). As Taigei means roughly “Big Whale” it is appropriate that Hakugei means “White Whale.”
And you better believe the current naval ensign, which was the old IJN’s ensign going back to the 1870s, was front and center (although it should be pointed out that an alternative version of the flag, with fewer rays and gold added to it, is used by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force).
Other than possibly the Germans, the Japanese are making the world’s most deadly SSKs. Post-WWII, they have earned lots of experience in that realm with domestic production including the Sōryū class (12 boats), Oyashio-class (11), Harushio-class (7), Yūshio-class (10), Uzushio-class (7), Asashio-class (4), JDS Ōshio, Natsushio-class (2), and Hayashio-class (2) since 1960, a run of 56 boats thus far, not counting the new Taigeis.
But, with neighbors like Communist China and North Korea, can you blame them?