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Scholars urge Tokyo Government to retract its order forcing Kimigayo on schools

Six scholars and journalists on January 27 requested that Tokyo's superintendent of education retract his statement that compulsion will continue to be used to make public schools raise the "Hinomaru" flag and sing "Kimigayo" at ceremonies.

The statement in question was made by Nakamura Masahiko, superintendent of education in Tokyo, in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on December 8, 2005. He stated that the board of education will issue a warning to schools where many students refuse to stand up and sing Kimigayo in order to prevent other schools from following them, thus making clear that the government will strengthen control.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education's notice and guidelines dated October 23, 2003 stated that dissenting teachers should be punished.

The six people included Waseda University Professor Nishihara Hiroshi and journalist Saito Takao. They requested that the superintendent retract the notice and unjust punishments. They called for ordering schools to respect students' freedom of conscience, without resorting to threats.

Alarmed at the Tokyo government's move toward increasing interference in schools in preparation for the coming graduation ceremonies and the start of the new school year, Nishihara said, "Using coercive measures on children will traumatize them. It is what educators must not do."
- Akahata, January 28, 2006

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