This symbol is called 米印 kome-jirushi
("rice sign") in Japanese
, because of its resemblance to the kanji
It is superficially similar to an English asterisk, but actually used quite differently. Most of the time, the kome-jirushi appears to draw the reader's attention to instructions or precautions, e.g.:
Dismembering the monkey is prohibited by law.
Like the asterisk, the kome-jirushi
can also be used for footnote
s. Nowadays, however, it is more common to use numbered footnotes or a Western-style asterisk (＊
/ Unicode FF0A) for that purpose.
The kome-jirushi appears at Unicode hex 203B.