Date of Graduation

Fall 12-14-2018

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Museum Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Museum Studies

First Advisor

Stephanie Brown


In World War II one of the most common objects found on the battlefield in the Pacific Theater was that of the Japanese Yosegaki Hinomaru or “Good Luck Flag” These objects were some of the most looted items from the war and soon found themselves in the possession of veterans of World War II and their families. In the past few decades as these veterans pass, increasing numbers of veterans and their families attempt to return the flags to Japan, or museums in the United States, believing they are the most suited to care for such objects. However this presents unique problems for museums as these flags are nearly invariably illegally looted from the war dead, and possessing such objects could also cause ethical if not legal concerns. Despite no laws explicitly prohibiting the possession or sale of such cultural heritage objects I will look at such objects through a lens of NAGPRA and how they would be treated under their guidelines. I will cover Simon Harrison's approach to the cultural significance of the flags and how they have changed in function through the years as well as the impact of individuals who attempt to restitute the flags on their own initiative. I will then address what institutions like the Obon Society do in their mission to return Japanese Good Luck flags as well as how other museum institutions can assist or facilitate their mission.