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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 6 - 12  > Tokyo ordered to pay 27.6 million yen over ‘Kimigayo’ suit
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2008 February 6 - 12 [EDUCATION]

Tokyo ordered to pay 27.6 million yen over ‘Kimigayo’ suit

February 8, 2008
The Tokyo District Court on February 7 ordered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to pay 27.6 million yen to 13 former high school teachers in compensation for losses they incurred after being denied postretirement re-employment contracts on the grounds that they failed to comply with a metropolitan directive concerning “Kimigayo.”

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education on October 23, 2003, issued a directive that requires teachers to stand and sing “Kimigayo” at graduation and other school ceremonies. Teachers who refused to act on orders issued under the directive by school principals were reprimanded. At retirement, their applications for re-employment as teachers on contract were turned down.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Nakanishi Shigeru said that the teachers’ choice not to sing didn’t cause any damage to ceremonies and this shouldn’t be a factor influencing their employment records and pointed out that the board’s denial of re-employment amounted to deviating from its authority and lacked in justifiable reasoning and social validity.

However, Nakanishi also ruled that it is constitutional for a school principal to issue such an order to teachers under the board directive, adding that the order is in compliance with the purpose of the Education Ministry guideline that requires teachers to guide students to sing “Kimigayo” and that it doesn’t restrict teachers’ freedom of thought and conscience.

Later in the day, the plaintiffs and their supporters held a victory rally in Tokyo.

Their lawyers said, “Today we won a victorious ruling that will help stop the board of education from forcing teachers to sing ‘Kimigayo.’ We will henceforth make efforts to win a court ruling that the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education directive is unconstitutional.” He also called for the latest ruling to be used to help increase the struggle against the board’s directive.
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