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Thursday, July 22, 1999 Published at 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Japan's Rising Sun nearer official status

The Japanese government has moved further towards granting legal status to the Rising Sun flag and an anthem praising the Emperor.

The lower house of parliament approved a bill that would enshrine in law the status of the anthem and the flag, which consists of a red disc on a white background.

Both have long been used at official functions but granting them legal status has aroused controversy in Japan where critics say they reflect Japan's militaristic past. Correspondents say the bill is likely to be approved by the Upper House of parliament early next month.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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