Sunday, August 15, 1999 Published at 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Reprise for Japan's anthem
The rising sun flag has also been given legal status
The Japanese national anthem has been played at an official ceremony honouring the country's war dead for the first time since the end of World War II.
It follows the Japanese Parliament's decision to pass a new law giving the anthem, Kimigayo, and the Rising Sun flag legal status as the country's symbols.
Although they are often seen and heard at official occasions, the decision to give the anthem, which honours the emperor, and the Rising Sun flag legal status provoked controversy in Japan.
Earlier seven cabinet ministers visited Tokyo's controversial Yasukuni shrine where 2.4 million people who have died in wars since 1853, including seven war criminals, are remembered.
Visits create diplomatic headache
The politicians were joined by thousands of people, including an extremist right-wing group who unfurled the rising sun flag and sang the national anthem in front of the shrine.
Visits by cabinet ministers and lawmakers to Yasukuni are a perennial diplomatic problem for Japan.
Nations such as China say visits by politicians to the shrine are an insult to those who suffered from Japanese militarism during World War II.