Teachers who refused to sing 'Kimigayo' are forced to attend correctional session

Teachers of high school and elementary schools in Tokyo who refused to stand up to sing 'Kimigayo' (may the Emperor's reign be forever) at graduation/entrance ceremonies (March/April) have been ordered to attend a correctional program this summer.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education has announced that it will hold the 'training session' on August 2 and 9, in which board staff members will lecture on education-related law and ordinances. Participants will be asked to write a report on what they have learned in the "training session" and how they reflected on their refusal to stand up and sing "Kimigayo".

At the Metropolitan Assembly on June 8, the chairman of the board of education in answer to a Liberal Democratic Party representative stated that teachers refusing to teach students to stand up and sing 'Kimigayo' at school ceremonies must attend a long-term special training session.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government punished more than one hundred teachers for their refusal to comply to the board of education instructions regarding the Hinomaru as the national flag and "Kimigayo" as the national anthem. Some of these teachers got pay cuts as penalty.

The punitive action has aroused strong indignation among teachers, students, and parents as an act that "infringes on the freedoms of thought and belief as well as the Fundamental Law of Education."

A teachers' association which has filed a lawsuit calling for the withdrawal of the board of education's instruction and punishment along with various citizens' groups have begun a signature drive calling for freedom of thought to be guaranteed.

More than 700 people from various sectors have expressed support for the petition calling for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's correctional program to be canceled. (end)

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