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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 7 - 13  > Compulsion of Hinomaru and Kimigayo will ruin education
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2007 March 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Compulsion of Hinomaru and Kimigayo will ruin education

March 6, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

“Put an end to forcing teachers and students to stand up for the Hinomaru flag and to sing Kimigayo at school ceremonies.” This democratic call on which almost everyone can agree has shown a steady advance in the past school year.

The Tokyo District Court in September 2006 ruled that the Tokyo metropolitan government’s extraordinary compulsion of standing up for the flag and singing the song at schools is unconstitutional. In the Diet discussions on the Fundamental Law of Education last year, the central government also agreed that such compulsion cannot be justified.

Historical facts must be the starting point

This compulsion is unjust. This is evident in the well-known historical fact that the Hinomaru and Kimigayo “were used as a means of [waging] the wrong war” (Statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Nonaka Hiromu on August 6, 1999).

The Tokyo District Court ruling stated, “This is why there are not a few people who are opposed to the flag being unfurled and the song being sung at graduation and entrance ceremonies. These people’s freedom of thought and conscience is a right worthy of constitutional protection unless they go against the public welfare by encroaching upon the rights of other people.”

The government endorsed this line of argument in the Diet discussion on the Fundamental Law of Education. Responding to Japanese Communist Party House of Councilors member Inoue Satoshi, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shiozaki Yasuhisa on November 27, 2006 said, “It (opposition to unfurling Hinomaru and singing Kimigayo) concerns the freedom of thought and conscience.”

Freedom of thought and conscience must be guaranteed to students above all else. During the previous Diet session, Akahata reported a story about a sixth grader whose mother is a third-generation South Korean resident in Japan. This student hated to sing Kimigayo, but in line with the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education policy her teacher instructed her to sing the song opening her mouth wide enough to enable three fingers to be put in.

A metropolitan government-run high school student said, “If I am forced to sing Kimigayo, my human rights will be denied. They could make me sing, but I will lose my love for Japan.”

Adults are required to convey to children the history and meaning of Hinomaru and Kimigayo as well as explain the freedom of thought and conscience.

The compulsion on teachers arises from superiors’ work-related orders. However, human rights guaranteed by the Constitution weigh more than superiors’ orders.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that the right of thought and conscience of teachers who are refuseniks should be respected even though some people may feel offended about their remaining seated unless they infringe on other people’s rights by obstructing graduation ceremonies.

The February 27 Supreme Court ruling rejected a teacher’s complaint about being punished for refusing to play the piano in accompaniment. This ruling was based on the assumption that playing the piano in accompaniment will not harm the teacher’s thought and conscience. This unreasonable assumption shows the court’s insensitivity to the concept of human rights.

Students are protagonists in school ceremonies

Graduation and entrance ceremonies are important occasions for students entering a new stage in their lives. Everyone earnestly calls for such ceremonies to be ones in which they can share the delight for their growth. Students, not the flag and the song, are the protagonists in the ceremonies.

We earnestly call for an end to such compulsion that will harm basic human rights and education in Japan.
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