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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 June 1 - 7  > Ordinance on ‘Kimigayo’ violates constitutional freedom of thought
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2011 June 1 - 7 [EDUCATION]

Ordinance on ‘Kimigayo’ violates constitutional freedom of thought

May 31, 2011
Yoroi Takayoshi, president of the Democratic Lawyers Association, commented on the draft ordinance submitted by Osaka’s local party Osaka-Ishin-no-Kai, compelling teachers to stand up during the singing of “Kimigayo” (May the emperor reign forever).

Excerpts of his comment are as follows:

I was surprised to read the text of the draft ordinance. Article 1 stating the objective of the ordinance is incoherent.

It claims that the draft ordinance is based on the law on the national flag and national anthem. However, during the 1999 Diet discussion on the bill, Prime Minister Obuchi Keizo and his cabinet members many times assured the public that the raising of the flag and the singing of the song are not compulsory and that people’s personal freedom shall not come under any compulsion.

Many people in Asia are still harboring bitter memories of the “Hinomaru” (Rising Sun) flag as the symbol of Japan’s aggression in WWII. How can the raising of the flag and the singing of the song “help to form attitude toward respecting other countries and contributing to the peace and development of the international community” as the draft ordinance claims?

My opinion is that a lot of controversy still surrounds the flag and the “Kimigayo”: Is “Kimigayo” really appropriate as the national anthem for Japan, a state in which people are the sovereign? Is “Hinomaru” appropriate as the national flag, which used to symbolize Japan’s aggression against other countries?

If teachers, who used to freely discuss social and political questions in their classes, have to stand up and sing the song in unison, under the compulsory ordinance and discipline, will that be a good influence on students? Does the ordinance aim to ban teachers from freely discussing the issue surrounding the “Hinomaru” and “Kimigayo”?

On a past lawsuit regarding the Kansai Electric Power Co.’s discrimination against workers due to their ideology, the Supreme Court judged the action to be illegal, stating that it unjustly infringed on the freedom to form human relations at workplaces.

Without the atmosphere of encouraging free and vigorous discussion at schools, education in the true sense of the word will be impossible.

Hashimoto Toru, Osaka governor and president of Osaka Ishin-no-Kai, is a lawyer so he should very well know that the Japanese Constitution guarantees the freedom of thought and creed as a key component of fundamental human rights. It was based on the serious remorse for the Public Order Maintenance Law, which the prewar Tenno (Emperor) system had imposed in order to support the war structure and to deprive people of every freedom.

The draft ordinance is flagrantly defies the Constitution. Even before the ordinance has come into effect, Governor Hashimoto is talking about disciplinary dismissals of teachers disobeying the ordinance and publicizing their names.

Prefectural governors, a special position in government service, are obliged to obey the Constitution. Governor Hashimoto needs to reread the Constitution and do away with the draft ordinance.

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