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Supreme Court rules making teachers sing 'Kimigayo' is constitutional

61 Comments

The Supreme Court has dismissed two suits from 375 teachers and educational professionals requesting a ban on the enforced singing of the "Kimigayo," Japan's national anthem, in schools. The court ruled 4-1 that such orders are constitutional.

The issue has long been a contentious one with teachers who refused to stand and sing the "Kimigayo" at school. In many cases, dissenting teachers received reprimands, pay cuts or were suspended.

In announcing the decision Thursday, the court upheld last year's Tokyo High Court decision that confirmed the constitutionality of enforced singing of the anthem in schools, and refused to ban the act of obliging children and staff to do so, TBS reported.

The court ruled that ordering teachers to sing the "Kimigayo" did not violate their freedom of thought, which was the basis for the plaintiffs' claim.

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Welcome to Japan. A country poorly managed by very, very, very old stubborn people who have no idea what they're doing. Japan, a land which promotes freedom of thought and speech (provided you do not try to exercise those freedoms)...

This is very embarrassing...

3 ( +12 / -9 )

My advice to all those teachers (375) and educational professionals is to go on STRIKE.

0 ( +9 / -8 )

upheld last years Tokyo High Court decision that confirmed the constitutionality of enforced singing of the anthem

Enforced singing... yikes. What if they can't sing or are tone deaf? Will they be fired for not getting it tone-perfect? I just can't ever imagine in any free country being forced to sing...except maybe North Korea?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

So, teachers can now received reprimands, pay cuts or be suspended for not singing? Holy cow!!! I wonder if my company is going to "give me a choice" to recite the company policies like all the Japanese minions or take a pay cut!?!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Sad, sad, sad day for Japan. Like I have asked many times, are foreigners exempt from this? If so, why? If no, why haven't any schools raised issues about it? My guess? Opens a whole can of worms that they know would get rid of the pathetic rule.

Nama, pathetic isn't it? You can sexually assault someone, harass someone, bully them... but be okay at work. Refuse to sing? You could lose your job.

Now, how is it possible to do this to teachers but yet, singing the damn thing everyday isn't a rule? Companies here don't sing, unis don't sing, shops don't sing... How on earth can they enforce it when those judges don't get up and sing it?

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Next they'll bring back the Imperial Rescript on Education. There are people who want to do that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Can this rule be applied only to Kimigayo? Thinking singing Kimigayo as just a rule of a ceremony in a sort of companies, it would be not unusual that those who refuse to observe a rule in the ceremony receive a kind of penalty. All companies and institutions are able to order their employees to do something needed to run their business smoothly. This decision would have nothing to do with specific nature of Kimigayo. The judge may think the teachers give too much especial weight to Kimigayo. But, if they mean that we must sing Kimigayo just becuase the song is Kimigayo, national anthem, it is a ridiculous decision.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember my high school days ... most of us wouldn't sing the national anthem except for the last line, which traslates to "to die because of you". The teachers and school administrators noticed this trend, but they couldn't do anything about it.

This enforced singing is just plain pathetic, but at the same time, refusing to stand while others are singing is also wrong and disrespectful IMHO.

But as tmarie said, there are a lot of other things to implement harsh punishments to, but are getting ignored because they are already a part of the culture?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Boo-yah!! Now shut up and sing.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Welcome to North Korea! This song is nothing short of a three hundred year old rakugo poem and not a national anthem! I completely sympathize with the teachers. However, refusing to stand during the playing is disrespectful. The don't have to honor the song, but the should at least honor their national flag.

-5 ( +3 / -7 )

Whatever. All anthems are stupid anyway, as is the concept of the nation state come to that.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Come on teachers, STRIKE!!

-1 ( +2 / -2 )

My advice to those teachers is to intentionally sing the song off tune with strange words loud enough as to make trot point.

0 ( +3 / -2 )

Freedom of will and words, not in Japan, China or North Korea.

-1 ( +2 / -2 )

that`s a shame. although, to be considered respectful i do feel that everyone should stand - but to be forced to sing??? that is just so wrong in a supposed free society.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The court ruled that ordering teachers to sing the “Kimigayo” did not violate their freedom of thought, which was the basis for the plaintiffs’ claim.

This is the correct ruling. They are still free to think as they like. They can sing the song and think about how much they love the Chinese Communist Party all they want, so long as they sing the song and cheer the hearts of the patriotic children of Japan.

We must be be proud of who we are and where we came from. And we must be proud of the symbolys of that heritage.

You can think anything you want, but you will act the way we tell you.

-7 ( +7 / -15 )

A country poorly managed by very, very, very old stubborn people who have no idea what they're doing.

They know exactly what they are doing. A right-wing, nationalistic attempt to manipulate and instill the youth of Japan with "national pride" while managing to override any basic human rights involved and without having to give a detailed explanation of their "judgement". Absolutely shameful. And now Japan is even copying the Americans by singing the national anthem before baseball games...how sick is that?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

j4p4nFTW: It is thinking like yours that is killing Japan.

Look at the calender, it is 2012...

5 ( +11 / -5 )

You can think anything you want, but you will act the way we tell you.

That's exactly how the Chinese and North Korean communist parties deal with their unfortunate people.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Whoa. JT is showing BLUE for links I have visited. That's rather handy. Thanks!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only way this problem can be solved is by having a referendum to change the constitution. Give the people a chance to vote on a change to their constitution. If that fails then the teachers are going to have to sing for their wage.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just lip-synch it like Madonna.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I see that my opinion is in the minority here, but I still can's see why the teachers can't just sing the song at graduation ceremonies without making some kind of a farce out of it.

Hard to comprehend how singing one song once a year can be seriously taken as a breach of freedom. They are receiving their salaries from the government, so might as well do their job and at least pretend to be singing.

Here's an idea, how about not attending the graduation ceremony at all? Everybody wins!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Didn't the NAZIs also enforce a similar rule, defiantly for teachers...after all they teach the children. If it has to be enforced then the problem is with the countries feelings of self worth, not a problem fixed with draconian measures like this.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Those nikkyoso teachers are crazy.

They make their high school students kneel down on the ground and apologize in front of Korean people when they go to shugaku-ryoko to South Korea.

http://ameblo.jp/memorialrose-greatest/entry-11115187682.html

Those students whose fathers/mothers in JSDF are literally bullied by those teachers. "Ono-kun's father is SDF officer. JSDF are a group of murders. Ono-kun is a child of a murder. Everybody, when you grow up, let's not be like Ono-kun's father."

http://www.geocities.co.jp/WallStreet/4759/19990218.html

If your child is half Japanese and American, you have to be careful when you had nikkyoso teachers. The teacher started to talk about American soldiers in Okinawa, "Those Americans took Okinawa with guns and bulldozers." A half Japanese/American student said different opinion, and then, you probably know what happened. There are lots of court cases those teachers charged with human rights violations

http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~senden97/sayoku4_1.html#4.2.2 アメリカ人ハーフの生徒を学校からイビリ出したアカ教師

They say "Going to bed early, getting up early, and having breakfast" slogan is violation of constitution.

http://bastos.fc2web.com/page020.html

I can go on and on...

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Hard to comprehend how singing one song once a year can be seriously taken as a breach of freedom.

This anthem actually has to be sung more than once a year, but this might have something to do with believing in the principles of freedom of speech and fighting for those principles, even if you are forced to forgo a basic human right once a decade.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We see this story about twice a year don't we? Always a fresh challenge to this nationalistic idiocy.

Hats off to those teachers. It's nice to see some Japanese sticking to their guns instead of taking it lying down and sighing the ol' Shouganai.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I can go on and on...

Yes, you can go on and on with links to rightwing (右翼= fascist) propaganda blogs!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Funny how Japan pretends to be above the likes of nations like North Korea and China in terms of human rights but then deems FORCED singing to not be against freedom of thought, and not being the choice of the people. The nation claims to be democratic and advanced, but this proves it has never learned from its past mistakes and is probably doomed to repeat them (and be on the losing end, again).

Sad day for Japan, but then who with any knowledge of the nation expected differently?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

so basically the court is ruling that the gov't can force you to do something, but you are allowed to think something else while doing it. why aren't japanese people up in arms about this? come on japan!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Do English teachers who work in high schools have to join in or face the wall? lol I guess singing the anthem they can make it into rap :P

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is not simply teachers' freedom of singing national anthem or not. There are multiple stories behind it.

For example:

When Sera high school students in Hiroshima went to shugaku-ryoko to South Korea, they visited Tappuru park where there were former comfort women talking about what happened at that time. After their talk, students were told to kneel down on the ground and apologize in front of them. When some students refused to do it, the teachers and comfort women yelled at students, "You are stunning shameful!!!"

In 1999, the principal of Hiroshima Prefectural SERA Senior High School committed suicide on the day of the commencement ceremony and it was rumored that the cause of this suicide was the fact that he had been caught in the middle of the instruction by Monkasho chorus reading Kimigayo and the Japanese flag and opposing teachers who belonged to Nikkyoso.

http://ameblo.jp/memorialrose-greatest/entry-11115187682.html#main

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I also think because China's students are being ramped up with patriotic crap, they might be trying to do the same in Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The nation claims to be democratic and advanced, but this proves it has never learned from its past mistakes and is probably doomed to repeat them (and be on the losing end, again).

smith -- spot on, as usual. Japan, at its core, is a country without a guiding set of values, since its constitution was imposed on them. The words like freedom of thought and speech are just abstract concepts which they truly don't grasp the essence of.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@billyshears

Were you a student at Kogane high school? I was!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I also think because China's students are being ramped up with patriotic crap, they might be trying to do the same in Japan?

You're right, the despicable Chinese government tries to brainwash their children with anti-Japanese propaganda in their "history" textbooks because it suits their purpose to create a common enemy . However, two wrongs do not make a right. Japan is supposed to be a democracy (with all that being a democracy entails).

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

j4p4nFTW, "We must be be proud of who we are and where we came from. And we must be proud of the symbolys of that heritage. You can think anything you want, but you will act the way we tell you."

Thats hardly a democratic sentiment. A bit like the court ruling really. Its dissapointing they couldnt find a way to enable respect for the tradition for those that want to participate, without trampling on the teachers' democratic freedoms.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japanese school teachers are really crazy and foolish. i wonder why they can't sing a national anthem as they're standing. they don't have a common sense therefore student has come to be foolish.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Yes, you can go on and on with links to rightwing (右翼= fascist) propaganda blogs!

I don't have any links to prove my own experience at Kogane high school in Chiba prefecture. You have no idea how hard it is to be taught by those nikkyoso teachers. I'm not gonna talk everything what happened then because probably the moderator will remove this post soon. There was one classmate who wanted to join JSDF to serve the country and help people after he graduates from high school. One nikkyoso teacher said in front of everybody, 〇〇kun wants to be a murder after he graduates from this school. Isn't it shameful???"...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Smithinjapan~ Spot on. My husband...who just happens to be Japanese, describes Japan as the 'Velvet Communist Society'. A few years ago, I read about a book that a Japanese female author had written about divorce. The powers that be had it removed from the area's library bookshelves because they deemed it not suitable reading material for women. I am sorry. I don't remember the title but could google it later. That astounded me as I had heard Chinese friends talking about similar situations back in China then. Now this. Japan really is a hypocrite. It's all 'katach' with no meaning as per usual. Let's promote ourselves to be all modern, democratic and international but the reality couldn't be more different.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very (deliberately?) misleading headline. The court did not rule that making teachers sing the anthem was constitutional.

The court ruled against the plaintiffs' claim that making the teachers sing the anthem was unconstitutional as it violated their freedom of thought.

This does not mean it could not be found unconstitutional in some other way.

Courts don't rule that something is constitutional, they rule for or against arguments that something isn't constitutional.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Got my italics all wrong there, so try again.

Courts don't rule that something is constitutional, they rule for or against arguments that something isn't constitutional.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One nikkyoso teacher said in front of everybody, 〇〇kun wants to be a murder after he graduates from this school. Isn't it shameful???"...

So this teacher represents ALL the teachers who don't want to stand up and sing the kimigayo? And how did you find then post links to right-wing fascist blogs?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So this teacher represents ALL the teachers

Who said all?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To j4p4nFTW, We must be be proud of who we are and where we came from. And we must be proud of the symbolys of that heritage.

You are absolutely correct j4p4nFTW.

My blood boils when i think that Japan is suffering for decades with this intimidation by motion nikkyoso-hanniti.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Japanese public schools have so many problems:

nikkyoso teachers entrance examination hell for HS/College center exam for public universities bullying suicidal teachers suicidal students 登校拒否(tokokyohi) 学級崩壊(gakkyuhokai) monster parents English education with/out ALTs refusal of J-shine teachers refusal of ALTs school merge in country side low level of literacy test school bus system full time foreign teachers unable to be Kyoyu in public schools...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Simply sad that it took a Supreme Court ruling to force these teachers to grow up.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

ruled 4-1 that such orders are constitutional.

I applaud that one judge who deemed it unconstitutional. How in the hell could any person with a sense of justice interpret forcing someone, even a employee of the state, to sing a politically controversial song not a violation of freedom of thought?

A country's justice system is indicative of the health of a country's democracy. We are herby reminded where Japan stands.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And how did you find then post links to right-wing fascist blogs?

Maybe I was wrong posting someone's blogs. This Wikipedia is the best link that I have about those nikkyoso.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E6%95%99%E8%81%B7%E5%93%A1%E7%B5%84%E5%90%88

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The court ruled that ordering teachers to sing the “Kimigayo” did not violate their freedom of thought, which was the basis for the plaintiffs’ claim.

I think it needs to be pointed out that these teachers don't even have the respect to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yes, you can go on and on with links to rightwing (右翼= fascist) propaganda blogs!

This Wikipedia covers almost the same links as I posted earlier. (including Hiroshima high school incident, anti-JSDF, anti-national flag and anthem).The wiki actually has more information about the problems of nikkyoso. In your opinion, those links and wiki are rightwing fascist uyoku. Will you please help me understand why they are uyoku? I know Sankei shimbun is sort of migi-yori/right and they talk a lot about the problems of nikkyoso. Why is Wikipedia on rightwing side? You probably know that I don't know of. I thought this news article is so relevant to nikkyoso, or more over it is the problem of nikkyo itself in my opinion. But maybe I am wrong. I might be overreacting toward nikkyoso and had become nikkyosophobia since I had an awful experience in my high school years and being a teacher myself here in Japan knowing it is a very sensitive issue. Please help me understand why you think bringing up the problems of nikkyoso is considered to be rightwing fascist uyoku. Thank you.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Next stop: The UN. International Court of Human RIghts.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ sarcasm321: Couldn't agree more. Anthems are silly. The fact we were forced to stand for them as kids was simply for respect to your country. Nothing wrong with respecting the country you live in. I think this whole issue is being blown way out of proportion. A national referendum would solve this along with a few other problems. Anyone wanting to be democratic about this and the other mounting issues seems to be the problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, the next thing you know they will have to do a "pledge of allegiance" and a prayer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You have no idea how hard it is to be taught by those nikkyoso teachers.

@Blair Herron: Okay so nikkyoso teachers are leftist nuts. Is that your best excuse to support shredding the constitution? Is forcing them to help brainwash kids with Kimigayo and an example of fear going to solve anything? Will forced respect for a song make this country greater than it already is?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is that your best excuse to support shredding the constitution?

Where did I say I support?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Supreme Court also ruled last month that the punishment for failing to obey orders to sing Kimigayo cannot be more than a reprimand.

I think the latest ruling is wrong because there is no particular reason, other than habit, for Kimigayo to be sung at school ceremonies. It is not a necessary or essential part of the ceremony and there would be no adverse effect on the ceremony if Kimigayo were not sung.

They could solve the problem by doing away with the graduation ceremony altogether: we never had any such thing at any school I went to.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Where did I say I support?

@Blair Herron: Well if your ad hominems on the teachers against Kimigayo are not meant as support for this desecration of the constitution, then what relation does it have to this story??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Blair Herron: Well if your ad hominems on the teachers against Kimigayo are not meant as support for this desecration of the constitution, then what relation does it have to this story??

First of all, I agree with irishosaru. Very misleading headline. The court did not rule that making teachers sing the anthem was constitutional (Japanese constitution article 19).The court ruled against the plaintiffs' claim that making the teachers sing the anthem was unconstitutional as it violated their freedom of thought.This does not mean it could not be found unconstitutional in some other way.Courts don't rule that something is constitutional, they rule for or against arguments that something isn'tconstitutional.

Mainichi shimbun has better story.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120210p2g00m0dm019000c.html

I support the Constitution article 19, which is the controversial issue here. Japanese constitution article 19 states "Freedom of thought and conscience" (Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints.)

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E5%9B%BD%E6%86%B2%E6%B3%95%E7%AC%AC19%E6%9D%A1

I believe those nikkyoso teachers (or any teachers) and students have freedom of thoughts for singing or not singing kimigayo.

Again, the court did not rule that making teachers sing the anthem was constitutional. The court ruled against the plaintiffs' claim that making the teachers sing the anthem was unconstitutional as it violated their freedom of thought. This does not mean it could not be found unconstitutional in some other way.

I don't know how much you know about nikkyoso.

Japan Teachers Union (日本教職員組合 Nihon Kyōshokuin Kumiai), often just called "Nikkyoso" (日教組 ), is Japan's largest and oldest labor union of teachers and school staffs. The union is known for its critical stance against the conservative Liberal Democratic Party government on such issues as Kimi ga Yo, the Flag of Japan, and the screening of history text books since its near continuous one-party rule since 1945.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Teachers_Union

I never said they are all bad. They did some good stuff (at least in my opinion), such as "Nanking massacre" on textbooks. (All Japanese textbooks for public schools mention Nanking massacre.) Also they hire more zainichi Korean teachers. But at the same time, they have been causing lots of problems as I posted earlier. And in terms of kimigayo, a lot of nikkyoso teachers (not all) force students not to sing kimigayo. They say kimigayo is a song of glorification of war.

君が代は

千代に八千代に

さざれ石の

いわおとなりて

こけの生すまで

May your reign

Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations,

Until the pebbles

Grow into boulders

Lush with moss

Their interpretation is:

Your reign=emperor=militarism

May militarism continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations.

As I support the constitution article 19, I would support those nikkyoso teachers to have freedom of this interpretation. What I do not support is those teachers forcing students not to sing kimigayo. That is really hard to accept for those students who want to be JSDF officers or police officers, those athletes, returnees who have identity crisis...etc. If those students go against the teachers and try to sing kimigayo, they are called murderers. I understand the teachers do not want those students to be sent to war again just like WWII, but some of them are just too extreme and there are lots of court cases those teachers charged with human rights violations.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E6%95%99%E8%81%B7%E5%93%A1%E7%B5%84%E5%90%88

Again, I support Constitution article 19. Every Japanese national should have freedom of thoughts. They should not be forced to sing or not to sing kimigayo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The union is known for its critical stance against the conservative Liberal Democratic Party government on such issues as Kimi ga Yo, the Flag of Japan, and the screening of history text books since its near continuous one-party rule since 1945.

I'm terribly sorry this wiki is a bit old. The ruling party is not LDP, but DPJ now. But their critical stance against kimigayo hasn't changed much.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jack Stern's suggestion for teachers to sing off tune and use "strange words" is in the best tradition of the Provos who were active (and effective!) in the 70's in Holland. Great idea that I will convey to members of our union who are affected by this ruling and the Hashimoto edicts in Osaka.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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