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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 April 18 - 24  > Court recognizes salary cut penalty for rejecting ‘Kimigayo’ as excessive
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2012 April 18 - 24 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Court recognizes salary cut penalty for rejecting ‘Kimigayo’ as excessive

April 20, 2012
The Tokyo District Court on April 19 ordered the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education to revoke its decision of suspension from work and imposition of a salary cut against a male former junior high school teacher who refused to stand up and sing “Kimigayo” at school events.

The court, however, supported the board’s decision to give an oral reprimand to him.

The plaintiff during his service to a public junior high night school in Tokyo’s Hachioji City received disciplinary punishments, including an oral reprimand, salary cut, and suspension from work, on the grounds that he rejected his school principal’s order based on the Tokyo education board’s directive forcing teachers to stand up and sing “Kimigayo” at the school’s graduation ceremony.

During his court battle, he claimed that for many foreign students at his night school from nations that the Japanese Imperial army invaded during World War II, the “Hinomaru” flag and “Kimigayo” are felt to be symbols of Japan’s war of aggression. He also argued that not only the board’s directive and the school heads’ order requiring teachers and students to stand up and sing “Kimigayo” but also punishments against teachers disobeying such a requirement infringe the right to freedom of thought and creed.

The lower court ruling recognized that it was inappropriate for the education board to punish the plaintiff by cutting his salary because his school principal rebuked him for his refusal to stand up and sing Kimigayo once.

This recognition was based on the Supreme Court decision in January calling on the board to give careful consideration when giving harsh punishments such as salary cuts to teachers ignoring its directive on Kimigayo.

The district court, on the other hand, regarded the board’s directive and the school principal’s order as legitimate.

While appreciating that the district court ruling helps to put a brake on the board’s move to use its power to give punishments to teachers, plaintiff’s lawyers criticized the ruling for allowing the continuance of unjust control over schools by the education board. They said that the plaintiff will appeal to a higher court demanding revocation of the board’s oral punishment.
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