When was Kimigayo established as the national anthem?
In 1893 (26th year of Meiji), the Ministry of Education decreed that Kimigayo would be incorporated into primary education as the anthem to be sung at ceremonies honoring national holidays.
Actually, the person who stressed the need for establishing a Japanese national anthem was a British military bandleader named Fenton.
The words for the song came from a poem in the Kokinwakashu and the Wakanroueishu.
After much deliberation over the selection of a melody, a tune by the gagaku (ancient court music) composer Hayashi Hiromori was adopted in 1880, and then arranged by the German music educator Franz Eckert to constitute today's Kimigayo.
However, during the adverse course of history that followed, including the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the Manchurian Incident and the Pacific War, the national anthem took on militarist overtones, which exposed it to a wave of criticism in the postwar period.
An increasing number of people came to dismiss Kimigayo as a symbol of militarism and the emperor system.
Strangely enough, while Kimigayo was sung as the de facto national anthem, it was not legally decreed as such for many years.
Finally, with the passing of the National Flag and Anthem Law in August 1999, the Rising Sun became the national flag and Kimigayo the national anthem.
But despite the new law, the calls for a different national anthem are as strong as ever.