politics

Universities asked to raise flag, sing national anthem at ceremonies

115 Comments

State-run universities were urged on Tuesday to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies, as well as other events.

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura made the suggestion at a meeting of the presidents of national universities in Tokyo.

Shimomura said hoisting the Hinomaru flag and singing the "Kimigayo" have long been customary at public schools and are widely expected by the public. However, universities have been divided on the issue.

Shimomura added that his request does not impinge on a university's freedom and that it is up to each institution to make an appropriate decision.

Some critics say Japan's anthem amounts to a call to sacrifice oneself for the emperor and celebrates militarism. Numerous battles over the years have seen teachers clash with school administrators over the issue.

In April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in the Diet that public schools and universities are funded by tax money and that raising the national flag and standing to sing the anthem at ceremonies should be done.

Last month, the Tokyo District Court awarded 537 million yen in compensation to 22 former high school teachers who were punished for refusing to sing the "Kimigayo."

The group said the city refused to rehire them under a scheme that extends employment past the retirement age, because they disobeyed orders to stand and sing the anthem at graduation ceremonies.

In 2012, the supreme court ruled that penalising teachers for not standing to sing the anthem was constitutional, but it warned administrators to exercise care in going beyond a reprimand.

© Japan Today/AFP

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115 Comments
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The emperor himself has said that people should not be coerced to sing the national anthem. Does Mr. Shimomura truly respect the emperor, or is this about state control over people's thoughts and actions? I suspect the latter.

widely expected by the public

False. Expected by bullies in black trucks.

39 ( +46 / -7 )

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura made the suggestion at a meeting of the presidents of national universities in Tokyo.

I have no major problem with universities raising the Japanese flag and singing the national anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies (although I personally tend to dislike these sorts of displays of nationalism, whether in Japan or in my own country).

Having said that, I find it very creepy in a fascist/totalitarian/big brother sort of way that the government would make this "suggestion." And of course, particularly in Japan the term "suggestion" with respect to the government is a euphemism for "you had better do it or else."

30 ( +34 / -4 )

Shimomura added that his request does not impinge on a university’s freedom and that it is up to each institution to make an appropriate decision.

Oh but it's ok for local governments to "urge" their HS, JHS, and ES teachers to do the same thing, even upon pain of getting fired. (The court never said that the "urging" was wrong)

11 ( +15 / -4 )

I would like to know if there are any such backward practices anywhere else on this Earth. Universities should promote no particular point of view, not even tangentially, and in fact should be inclusive to all supportable opinions. That is their purpose; to expand minds, not narrow them with patriotic drivel and ceremony.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

When does mandatory military service for university-aged males begin?

22 ( +25 / -3 )

Heil Abe!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When they start asking students to turn in their parents who make disparaging comments about the government, it will be time to get out of Dodge. We're not there yet, but I don't support forced patriotism. You should love your country because your country is loveable, not because there are consequences if you don't.

24 ( +25 / -1 )

So, was this one of the results from the oyaji meeting the other day?

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Please Japanese Citizen readers, consider very carefully who you want representing your country.

Im not doom and gloom, I don't think we will see a return to pre-war Japan, but this Abe certainly doesn't help show Japan in a good light.

He could make things so much better simply by being a bit more reasonable, and this coming 70 years since the end of the war, say sorry, no excuses, no mention of other countries, simply that Japan rejects fully the path that lead them to war, and is only interested in peace and working co-operatively with its neighbours.

I love this country and its people, it is my home too, but the politicians let everyone down.. they are out of touch and so beholden to their backwards views.

On this actual issue.. not such a big deal if a university chooses to have it as part of their ceremony but they shouldn't be forced, nor should there be any penalty.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

And some people wonder why China is now beating Japan in Asian university rankings.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

What I find funny about the far right is that they have absolutely no impulse control. What does a crazy proposal like this actually acheive for them? Surely their agenda of rewriting the constitution would be much more likely do succeed if they stopped suggesting that we also go back to doing things like in the 1930s... but they just can't help themselves. It's like a itch that needs to be scratched.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

'In April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in the Diet that public schools and universities are funded by tax money and that raising the national flag and standing to sing the anthem at ceremonies should be done.'

Tax payer money? The LDP? A flag with a black circle representing a black hole would be more appropriate for these wasteful clowns. Try caring more about the people who live in this country rather than silly patriotic songs and bits of cloth for a change.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

What I would like to know is why they never changed the national anthem. They did change the flag. Why wasn't the anthem changed to reflect a more peaceful Japan?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Japan is the only country I know that has to order patriotism from its people.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Let's be careful about jumping to conclusions. I'm all for singing the national anthem if that's what you want to do, but what's the worst case scenario here?

Will Shimomura hold back funding for universities that decide not to sing the anthem? If that happens to be the case, then that sets a bad precedence for freedom. Heck, that's that's not freedom at all. That's an illusion of freedom. If universities are feeling blackmailed or forced into this, they need to take this public.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I would like to know if there are any such backward practices anywhere else on this Earth.

Sure, in North Korea.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

I would like to know if there are any such backward practices anywhere else on this Earth.

USA? I'm sure the universities there raise the national flag even before being told to do so.

-5 ( +12 / -17 )

@Aly, I agree with you. If they say the anthem 's lyrics is disagreeable to them because of militaristic implication, then they shld change the lyrics or change the anthem altogether. But my take is this, the song was created in an entirely different era. Some people put a lot of, may I say different meaning to it on the present context. Why can't they just appreciate that they have a national anthem so short but full of emo. In this light, I just remember the National Anthem of my country, the Phils. During the Marcos era, some radicals would sing the anthem changing the original lyrics of a certain part from "to die is glory" to "to kill is glory. I guess we just have to be proud of something identifiable with our own country. And the bashers to the anthem, are they really Japanese? Why do they have to question simple sign of patriotism? @Yokohamarides, since the Chinese universities are higher in ranks as the survey says, then China shld stop sending their youths here on Japanese grants. The Jgovt can save so much money less the drama.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Japan is the only country I know that has to order patriotism from its people.

@Disillusioned

There is one other country that does this, as pointed out by @Nessie above.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

If people feel so strongly about the a National Anthem, they should probably go to private school. The schools chief sponsor is the Nation of Japan so it seems respectful to raise the flag and play the anthem but not obligate people to stand or sing. That feels like a decent compromise.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

And some people wonder why China is now beating Japan in Asian university rankings.

This has nothing to do with that sorry nice try lol. China is levels beyond Japan in terms of coercing students and teachers to confide to the government's view...so your comparison makes noooooooooo sense

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Force fed patriotism is dangerous and one of the first steps to fascism.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

how many here have actually read the lyrics to the Kimigayo? not much there, actually pretty when you think of an ancient poem. it is much less offensive than the Deutschenlied which is still used in Germany.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

They were asked, so they can politely refuse. End of problem. Unless this nation has finally become China they can't force them to do it.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Shimomura added that his request does not impinge on a university’s freedom and that it is up to each institution to make an appropriate decision.

So schools have a choice. Does not seem very controversial to me.

Force fed patriotism is dangerous and one of the first steps to fascism.

No one is forced to do anything. Even if the school does decide that unity is a good thing for the people of their institution, community, and nation it is impossible for the government to force students to sing the anthem let alone make them into "facists". The hyperbole is way too melodramatic.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Disillusioned try not standing when they play the national anthem in the USA. They play it all of the time before sports events before meetings and also the pledge of allegiance. I went to a ham radio meeting in the USA and got the dirtiest looks when I stood with them but said nothing. FYI the Maritime Self Defense force flies the same ensign as the the Imperial Japanese Navy. The national flag is the same one or close enough as the one for Imperial Japan. Oh yea please stand and be respectful, I stand for the American one. It will not hurt Japanese university people to do the same for Japan.

-10 ( +10 / -20 )

Not good news. Firstly there is this crazy policy to get rid of the arts at national universities, now we have some goon suggesting enforced patriotism. I suppose the question is when does this "request" become an "order". A rightly pointed out on numerous occasions (and supported by numerous court cases), despite this "requests" coming down from on high, school teachers, academics, and other people of conscience, are well within their rights to make their own decisions regarding this matter, including the decision to remain seated while those around them choose to stand. That being said, however, the target of the "request" on this occasion are not just local teachers, but the cream of Japanese academia. Being a rather open-minded person, I would hope that the folks at my Japanese alma mater laugh off this "request" with all the derision it deserves.

BTW, somebody above mentioned forced conscription of university aged males. This sound ludicrous, however, some of the moist poignant Japanese propaganda footage of World War Two was taken from the mobilization of university students which occurred about 1942. What is the saying about "those who forget history are bound to repeat it"? Perhaps all that burying of the past will come back to haunt Japan. The word that comes to mind is Götterdämmerung.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Wolfpack JUN. 17, 2015 - 09:05AM JST No one is forced to do anything. Even if the school does decide that unity is a good thing for the people of their institution, community, and nation it is impossible for the government to force students to sing the anthem let alone make them into "facists". The hyperbole is way too melodramatic.

What if your a teacher or a government employee in Osaka? Few years ago, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, head of a local party that submitted a bill to the Osaka Prefectural Assembly enabling the Osaka prefectural government to dismiss teachers and staff who refuse to stand during the national anthem three times, said he has no intention to revise it.

Hashimoto plans to submit a similar bill to the Osaka municipal assembly. He said the bills do not simply allow the local governments to dismiss government officials, teachers and school staff who violate orders three times, but require them to attend training, to give them a chance before being dismissed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Oh, C'mon. Just dump Article 9 already!

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

The only problem I would have with this is that the Japanese national anthem sounds like a funeral anthem, and not really something to be used at a jolly occasion!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

In 2020 when Japan hosts the Summer Olympics, if a Japanese athelte wins the Gold Medal (especially in an event that the main competitors will be from China and South Korea), once the Japanese flag and national anthem are being played, everyone of the posters who say that it is just being nationalistic or those from the universities and others who are against it will stand with pride when it will be played then.

Folks, if you don't have pride in your country, then I don't know what to say. If as they say the words in the song only extol the virtures of the Emperor and you don't like it, then have your elected officals remove the Imperial Household simply by cutting off funding and pass laws to do so.

These are state supported schools, who receive a majority of their funding from the taxpayers and the government. If you can't show some appreciation to that, then I don't know what to say.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Why Not? Are the Japanese young people ashamed of their flag and their National Anthem? Most nations give due respect to their flags and National Anthems. Even Russia and Germany use their old anthems. If University students are disrespectful and wary of singing the Japanese National Anthem and salute their flag, then these future leaders will face serious problems including being subjected to future "kow-towing" to the whims and fancies of the BIG BULLIES!

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Anthony Burgess underlining theme within 'A Clockwork Orange' was 'the freedom to choose is the big human attribute'.

The struggle is to resist political coercion, and except personal responsibility for those choices that ultimately determine the awareness of one action as blind belief or a healthy sense of pride in our national achievements and heritage.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No one should be forced and no one should be penalized for not doing it. Freedom of speech and choice.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Haven't they got better things to worry about than making people stand in front of a bit of cloth and mumble their way through a dirge?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Universities are supposed to be quasi-independent these days. Shimomura should mind his business.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Play the anthem at university graduations?

Damn. This country is turning into Canada.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

why is this such a big issue for the foreign community? you sing and stand when the national anthem is played before a sports event, but you shouldn't do it for a graduation/entrance ceremony? you always have to option of not standing and singing.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

"Patriotism" and "nationalism" are the last resorts for people who want to feel superior but have no virtues of their own to be proud of.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Why this even needs an instruction? Every university, regardless of country it is located in, needs to respect that country's Flag and national anthem! Period!

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

Patriotism" and "nationalism" are the last resorts for people who want to feel superior but have no virtues of their own to be proud of.

So what do you stand for? If you think this world is just some big "global union" and everyone is the same, then you don't understand human nature. Let me ask this, for any school that you may have gone to, did you or did you not support any team that the school may have put forth? If so, does that not make you a patriot and proud of that school? If not then I guess you don't care about the rest of the world around you.

By the way, as others have pointed out, if you don't want to respect the nation at the university level, it is these university graduates that in the future will be in charge. If all they are interested in is their "own piece" they will have no problems selling out Japan just to justify their own self interests.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I also think it should done. This is not the 1930s, people should show respect for their country. This is the nation that allows them to disrespect their government, flag, and anthem. For that alone they should show respect. The men an women who died building this country were not just those who fought in WWII. I always stand with my hands clasped together infront of me when I'm at an event where the national anthem is played, out of respect for the nation of Japan for giving me a job, a home, and a safe place to raise my children. The citizens of this country should at least appreciate those things. Stop living in the past, instead look to the future with the lessons learned from the past in mind.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Let me ask this, for any school that you may have gone to, did you or did you not support any team that the school may have put forth? If so, does that not make you a patriot and proud of that school? If not then I guess you don't care about the rest of the world around you.

Encouraging and supporting members of a community with whom you probably have at least some degree of personal affiliation or acquaintance has nothing to do with patriotism. Neither does "caring about the rest of the world around you"---that's practically the opposite of patriotism, which dictates that you should care more about people in the politically-defined region you just happened to be born in than those in any others.

they will have no problems selling out Japan just to justify their own self interests.

As the loudest advocates of "patriotism" are already happy to do.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It is time for Japanese academia (those who teach at national universities) to stand up and respond to these barbarians at the gate (well at least those who love to take photos in front of Aka Mon).

Might I suggest that a leading academic (not the dross that the LDP have used in the security debate) come up with a proposal to amend the National University Corporation Act.

Something along the lines of "only alumni of the institutions can dictate policy to the institutions" would do the trick. It would screw the majority of the political class rather effectively.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"Patriotism" and "nationalism" are the last resorts for people who want to feel superior but have no virtues of their own to be proud of.

Very well said. Nationalism, flag waving and anthems are also a fairly recent phenomenon which can be traced back to the end of the 18th century and particularly the period after the French Revolution. In reality, most people who say they are proud to be [insert nationality] have probably contributed very little to make their society truly great, of course 99% of us never will. They just insist on basking in the reflected glory of others' accomplishments as if they were their own - we put a man on the moon - we invented the steam engine - we make great electronics. To look at it another way, it's a bit like unhealthy overweight people cheering on their favorite sports team from their sofa and saying 'we won!'... No, you have won nothing my friend, they have won.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Good! Kimigayo should become more popular and people should sing it on a public events more often. Patriotism is important, and respect of national symbols is essential part of it. Kimigayo is a beautiful anthem and very peaceful. Kimigayo wa Chiyo ni yachiyo ni Sazare-ishi no Iwao to narite Koke no musu made

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

public schools and universities are funded by tax money

raising the national flag and standing to sing the anthem at ceremonies should be done.

The first is a statement of (partial) fact (It would be more accurate to say they are subsidised by tax money - parents also pay a goodly sum).

The second is a personal opinion that bears no relation to and does not follow from the first.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing patriotic about singing a song and saluting a piece of cloth simply because someone tells you to. If you want people to love their country, you need to make it a country that people will naturally love, not a country where people mindlessly do as they're told.

Also wot plastic monkey, Sensato, karakaze and M3M3M3 said.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Here in California a university decided to no longer fly the American flag quite recently and there was uproar (the reason being there were many foreign students who didnt affiliate themselves with it. The decision was quickly reversed after multiple protests - including from non Americans). I couldnt imagine the fury if they decided not to sing the NA either.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If we force students to sing out of patriotism, then where does the line end? THEN people will be forced to recite the national anthem backwards while riding on a unicycle, don't wanna do it? TRAITOR!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

The article is offensive and dangerous. Here is Japan it the Japanese flag should be at the unis and the Japanese anthem should be played. Its not something strange, its happening all over the world in all the countries. I don't understand where is the problem. They never said it should be done in unis of other countries. In USA even the rocks have attached the USA flag. You will probably hear the national anthem at least once a day if you go to any sports event, open the tv, listen to radio or any other activity with more than one person.

This freedom of speech thing has went too far. They use it for everything. You are free to say anything you want and you are more than encouraged to say it so openly that the government will always listen to it, store it, file it and use it against you if they ever decide so.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

If I said that Japan is just another "asian country" on this board, many of the same posters who say that I am wrong and that Japan is a unique entitiy unto itself are the very same ones who say that the universities shouldn't have the anthem played.

Like it or not, we are all parts of a group. Some groups allow others to have more freedoms than others,but we are still part of the group. Hey my ancestors were brought to America in the bottom of slave ships, but I still stand and respect the American flag and anthem, simply for the fact that it is my home and I belong. Yes there may have some bad parts to the history, but somehow we have overcome that and it is much better than it has been in the past.

Just because one has pride in their nation doesn't mean that they are an extremist and if not their way they will behead you and take over your country.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

its happening all over the world in all the countries.

This simply not the case. You would be hard pressed to find a flag or anthem being sung at a British, German or other European universities.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

No one should be forced to sing. Japan is not North Korea. Yet.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

If they changed the national anthem to the unofficial one (Ue O Muitte Arukou) then it probably wouldn't be a problem.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

You would be hard pressed to find a flag or anthem being sung at a British, German or other European universities.

No flag or anthem at graduation ceremonies? J govt is asking for at ceremonies, which means only a few times a year.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

There are plenty of supranational identities and ideals we can attach ourselves to, if we feel the need: religions, humanism, even the oft-spoken world peace. Patriotism is an anachronism. As others have alluded to, it also blinkers us to objectivity and the needs of other beings we share the planet with because we can only see our narrow-minded group as worthy. None of our nations are indispensable (sorry America). We could all live quite well if our own nation disappeared tomorrow, as many of us prove day in day out, but it would be practically impossible if we had no Earth with the perfect home it provides us. Let's graduate out of patriotism.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japan is the only country I know that has to order patriotism from its people.

Are you seriously trying to tell me that pupils who refuse to mutter 'I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America' during the morning ritual will not be frowned upon?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Forced patriotism is empty. Patriotism should be encouraged by creating a country that people want to love, not by forcing the people to love the country.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

When I traveled to southern Ireland, at the end of every night they all stood up and sang the national anthem, they were not dictated to sing it, but they sang it out of pride and willingness. Although we stud up we didn't sing but we did join in, so what would happen if an English man who was teaching English in a school in Japan would he/she be expected/fourced to sing the Japanese national anthem? I think it should be encouraged but not forced, these things are done out of pride for your country, and if you don't wish to sing, so what, does it matter?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

tinawatanabe: "USA? I'm sure the universities there raise the national flag even before being told to do so."

You obviously missed the point. In Japan it would be forced; in the US not so. If the universities aren't already doing it it means that they have chosen not to. So, 'suggesting' they do it (and we all know that's about as subtle a suggestion as if the North Korean or Chinese leaders were 'suggesting' it to their people, especially given that Abe said, "universities that receive public funding"!) even if they don't want to is wrong, regardless of whether it's only "a few times a year" (to start) or not. Abe and Co. suggested they do -- they should say 'no' if they don't want to, plain and simple.

You can't 'force' patriotism, and if you do it is NOT patriotism, but fear. Japan really is becoming the new China.

7 ( +10 / -4 )

Japan is the only country I know that has to order patriotism from its people.

You must not know much about many countries. Ever heard of North Korea?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan really is becoming the new China.

Nobody is forcing you to stay in the new China. Many Japanese people think it is appropriate to honor national flag and anthem at ceremonies because many of them are the victim of leftist teachers. If the public schools don't follow the government instructions, then no subsidies.

-16 ( +3 / -19 )

Oh, Tina, you previously held up the U.S. as an example of the very same backward practice you now appear to support for Japan. The paradox. Maybe the only resolution is that you consider Japanese patriotism reasonable but not US patriotism. And, at root, this is the exact problem with patriotism and the patriot. Mine is ok, but yours is wrong or bogus or not credible, especially in cases where the assertion of mine impinges on yours in a zero sum game. Well, let's take it to the next stage. No patriotism is credible.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Many Japanese people think it is appropriate to honor national flag and anthem at ceremonies

And many more don't. Otherwise why would the govmint have to tell people to do it?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japan should have dumped "Kimigayo" together with the Meiji Constitution in the wake of the disastrous war. In addition to its lyrics being a linguistic anachronism indecipherable even to educated Japanese, it is hopelessly 'dasai' as a tune. I wish Japan had had created a national anthem that everyone could sing with a national pride.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I am not in favor of pushing this on universities. With that out of the way, I think it is important to put things in perspective a bit.

In China, all university students have to take Marxist-Leninist and Maoist propaganda courses, and the contents of what is taught in Chinese university classes is under government surveillance and control.

ALL students have to undergo military training. In the words of one official: "The goal isn't to make the students battle-ready, but to instill in them a sense of patriotism, collectivism and national defense." This practice was expanded after the Tien-an-men debacle.

So, before making favorable comparisons with China, please keep these facts in mind. Japan is (still) pretty far away from that.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Forced patriotism never works.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Tina

No flag or anthem at graduation ceremonies? J govt is asking for at ceremonies, which means only a few times a year.

No, I've never seen this in Britain, ever. Nor in any other country European country. Of course America is quite different and much more nationalistic (USA, USA chanting etc.) but it truly is the exception to the rule when you look at the rest of the world. Japan shouldn't try to copy America... you agree with that don't you Tina?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Moonraker

I never said US patriotism is bad. And I don't think national flag and anthem at ceremonies are patriotism. If you attend or hold ceremonies, you have to follow the rules of the ceremonies. You can't say I pick this part of ceremony but refuse the other part. You are member of society, you have to follow the rule.

cleo

And many more don't. Otherwise why would the govmint have to tell people to do it?

I don't think "many more" because I have never met anybody against the flag and anthem besides the school teachers.

Otherwise why would the govmint have to tell people to do it?

Because the teachers Union is very strong who are only thinking about their own interests.

-14 ( +0 / -13 )

Maybe the government should change the national anthem. If the issue is the message of the lyrics itself. It's not too late to change it right? :)

0 ( +3 / -3 )

And as long as authority can convince us that their rules are society's rules then we will follow their rules, for their benefit. This is ideology, Tina. Having universities sing the anthem and raise the flag are the dreams of the authoritarian. And this is true in Japan as well as any other place. The university should be the repository of free thought and free speech. Attacks on it lead us further into the authoritarian nightmare. And even if your characterization of the teachers union is true, which I doubt, since it is mostly just a Monkasho bugaboo, it is irrelevant with regard to the university.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

its lyrics being a linguistic anachronism indecipherable even to educated Japanese, it is hopelessly 'dasai' as a tune.

The lyrics is very short and decipherable even to uneducated Japanese. The tune is very moving.

No, I've never seen this in Britain, ever. Nor in any other country European country.

I see, but still Japan does not need to follow Britain or any other country.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

'Maybe the government should change the national anthem. If the issue is the message of the lyrics itself. It's not too late to change it right? :)'

Can you imagine the kind of lyrics this shower would come up with?

4 ( +3 / -0 )

You are member of society, you have to follow the rule.

Or else.

The lyrics is very short and decipherable even to uneducated Japanese.

Just as well, eh.

The tune is very moving.

So is bran.

If people are not comfortable with anthems and flags, forcing them upon them is fascism, Tina.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

tinawatanabe: "Many Japanese people think it is appropriate to honor national flag and anthem at ceremonies"

And many don't, but you want to FORCE them to do it, just like in China.

"If the public schools don't follow the government instructions, then no subsidies."

Just like in China.

"If you attend or hold ceremonies, you have to follow the rules of the ceremonies. You can't say I pick this part of ceremony but refuse the other part. You are member of society, you have to follow the rule."

You would be a good little soldier in Mao's army, tina. By the way, a school ceremony is not up to the rules of the Japanese government, so too bad. Oh wait, you want to MAKE them subject to the will of the government, kind of like a certain Dictatorship or two that you deride for the same reasons you demand 'leftist teachers' and others follow a certain set of rules. Why don't you just move to China since you want to be there so badly?

"If people are not comfortable with anthems and flags, forcing them upon them is fascism, Tina."

You often don't see things when your eyes are closed. There are a LOT of people who are against the anthem and the flag besides teachers. They are not the ones telling the others what they must or must not do.

SenseNotSoCommon: "If people are not comfortable with anthems and flags, forcing them upon them is fascism, Tina."

Exactly!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I have a solution. Have all of the members of AKB48 write new lyrics, and we can have a new anthem as the result of next year's Senbatsu.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So what do you stand for? If you think this world is just some big "global union" and everyone is the same, then you don't understand human nature. Let me ask this, for any school that you may have gone to, did you or did you not support any team that the school may have put forth? If so, does that not make you a patriot and proud of that school? If not then I guess you don't care about the rest of the world around you.

@Alphaape, it may sound like a strange concept to you, but I have never supported any team just because it was the one of my school, university, company, city, country or whatever. Just because I happen to belong to that organization and someone decided to spend my taxes or fees to subsidize a certain team does not make me feel that I should support them. On the other hand, I have always supported the teams, in which my friends played in. And when they won, it made me feel happy, but not proud.

By the way, as others have pointed out, if you don't want to respect the nation at the university level, it is these university graduates that in the future will be in charge. If all they are interested in is their "own piece" they will have no problems selling out Japan just to justify their own self interests.

It's exactly by teaching to revere empty symbols that you get people who are only interested in their own profit. Instead, you should teach them how they can contribute to society or the organization they belong to. When they see the success of their contribution, they have something to be proud of.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The university should be the repository of free thought and free speech.

Does honoring the flag and anthem of the country that provide you with security, job and money undermine free thought and free speech? No. You can always change your job to a private one if you want to pursue your complete "free thought/speech".

If people are not comfortable with anthems and flags, forcing them upon them is fascism

Only small number of spoiled and selfish people, who think it is a cool thing to be rebellious against the authority from which they take bigger salaries than most private jobs. Asking them to honor the flag/anthem at ceremonies is not fascism.

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

Kneel before the Emperor....that is the future of Japan

2 ( +5 / -3 )

tinawatanabe: "Does honoring the flag and anthem of the country that provide you with security, job and money undermine free thought and free speech?"

It literally does, tina, yes, if you have no say and are forced to 'respect' it. Sorry, but you cannot get around that.

"Asking them to honor the flag/anthem at ceremonies is not fascism."

Again, it absolutely IS fascism when it's fascist, which is what you are demanding. It's actually YOU, and a small number of politicians, being 'spoiled and selfish' here, and demanding EVERYONE follow your rules.

4 ( +5 / -2 )

the authority from which they take bigger salaries than most private jobs

The entrance and graduation ceremonies are for the students and their parents, not the teaching staff. Far from getting any kind of security, job or money from the 'authority' (=the government? aka servants of the people) students pay the university. They shouldn't have to pay for the privilege of being coerced into being 'patriotic.' The one who pays the piper should get to choose the tune. Or decide whether there should be a tune at all.

I have never met anybody against the flag and anthem besides the school teachers.

You must move in very, very limited circles.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I see, but still Japan does not need to follow Britain or any other country.

@tinawatanabe, why follow the bad examples when there are so many better ones around?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I know most posters here are not native english speaking people and are "out of the box" thinkers but try to make an effort to understand what the article actually says.

Shimomura added that his request does not impinge on a university’s freedom and that it is up to each institution to make an appropriate decision.

Interpreted as "forced patriotism"?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

divine intervention: "Interpreted as "forced patriotism"?"

There's almost a sweetness to such naivete. Did you know that it was once optional to stand for the national anthem, or to even hoist the flag at junior highschool and elementary schools? guess who changed that -- Abe! at the same time he had references to sex slaves and forced suicides in Okinawa removed from all history texts, and in the same way he is trying to ram through his own personal interpretations of the constitution despite the majority of Japanese being clearly against it.

Look at the language used by Shimomura and Abe clearly: if this were not a veiled threat, using "schools that receive funding from the government" inserted into the 'suggestion' that they use stand up and sing for ceremonies, why not ask the private schools as well if it is truly just a matter of patriotism? Why would they ONLY ask the schools they give funds to, when it's still ultimately the students and families flitting most or all of the bill for their education? You watch what happens when the schools don't "cooperate" on this choice; the language will change from "it is up to each institution to make an APPROPRIATE decision" to language like tina's: " If the public schools don't follow the government instructions, then no subsidies." And when that doesn't work, they'll simply force more laws through that no one agrees with, while still calling it a 'choice'.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

@divine When you are a Minister or any other sufficient authority, nothing you say is "just" a request or suggestion anymore. Even if you genuinely want to make it non-coercive, people do not see it that way.

Of course, you can also use this to issue de facto orders instead of actually issuing a formal one. This power can be used for positive and negative intents and results.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

TV news showed some interviews with a few of the national university presidents immediately after the meeting with Minister Shimomura. If I recall correctly, it was the president of Shiga University who said (roughly) that while the universities are certainly beholden to the taxpayers, they should not be at the beck and call of the government as that's another thing entirely.

Following on the news that many of the national universities are reorganizing at the direction of the Ministry (in the case of the one where I teach part-time, slashing the Faculties of Humanities and Education, and bolstering the Faculty of Science), the so-called privatization of these institutions is sounding like more and more of a joke.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Does honoring the flag and anthem of the country that provide you with security, job and money undermine free thought and free speech?

This utterly disingenuous hypothesis speaks volumes.

Interpreted as "forced patriotism"?

Yes, a certain newspaper will inadvertently out non-compliant universities through praising those that have adopted the policy.

The uyoku's noisy black trucks will do the rest.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Americans in school must say the pledge and salute their flag by placing hand over the heart starting with elementary school children. I don't think jail is an issue but there is secular punishment at the school for refusing this I believe

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Americans in school must say the pledge and salute their flag by placing hand over the heart

There is not a single reason why Japan (or any other country) should emulate America's heart-on-sleeve brand of 'patriotism'.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

National Univ. = Kokuritsu Daigaku such as Tokyo U. Elite Univ in Japan.

@tinawatanabeJUN. 17, 2015 - 08:39AM JST I would like to know if there are any such backward practices anywhere else on this Earth.

USA? I'm sure the universities there raise the national flag even before being told to do so.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Write one name of USA national univ you are writing in your comment.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

All this hatin' on patriotism.

Skepticism toward the motives of another country is easy enough. Skepticism towards the motives on ones own country is commendable to a point. Indeed, no one of good faith or above mean intellect should take anything the formal representatives of their country desire with anything but a good heap of skepticism.

But letting such skepticism devolve into a knee-jerk negative patriotism that is nothing more than the mirror image of the policies of mindless hawks is not. It is a form of intellectual indolence and self-conceit.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Write one name of USA national univ you are writing in your comment.

Does USA have national univ? I said univ in USA would raise the national flag at the ceremonies, in response to some comments that say only North Korea besides Japan that raises the flag.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

"Education minister Hakubun Shimomura made the suggestion at a meeting of the presidents of national universities in Tokyo."

And this will promote education, how?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

There is not a single reason why Japan (or any other country) should emulate America's heart-on-sleeve brand of 'patriotism'.

First, for the record, no one in the US can made to salute the flag. See West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). The Supreme Court of the United States held that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected students from being forced to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school.

So there is that.

But I disagree with you Cleo. Patriotism is a good thing, and can be distinguished from nationalist, which is largely a bad thing. The words are used interchangeably, particularly in Japan, but they do have differences. On their most basic level, patriotism is love of one's country. Nationalism is love for the nation-state. The difference can be seen in the famous question:

Who is more patriotic, the soldier going off to fight or the protestor against the war?

Is is difficult to ask that question substituting 'patriotism' with 'nationalism. Because nationalism is about power, power-politics, zero-sum, and, let's face it, war.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@tinawatanabe wrote USA? I'm sure the universities there raise the national flag even before being told to do so.

================================================================

Many ceremonies in Univ in USA are held indoors. My comment was for tina's above comments.

BTW National Anthem singing is usually done by one local person who have louder voice than other candidates. Especially sport events.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I was asked ONCE in America why I didnt state the Pledge of Allegiance at a school event (I did stand). I answered "Because Im not American, Ive only been in the country two weeks and I dont know the words!" The woman smiled and whispered "Welcome to America!" somewhat sardonically.

Now, two years on, I do know the words, and I stand and state the Pledge of Allegiance. I am still not an American. But I am a guest so to speak in Americas house, and so while here out of respect for my host I will follow her traditions and rules. Same when I lived in Japan (which incidentally used to drive me crazy regularly but now I really miss it - funny how you dont realize what youve got etc etc). But in my OWN home - which for Japanese would be Japan - I have a choice whether to stick to my own rules or not as long as it doesnt adversely affect anyone else. Nobody should be forced into patriotism. As Smith rightly said- that`s just fascism.

Personally I dont know why they dont just can all this annual nonsense and write a new national anthem. They could get some of those uber talented AKB girls to do it. I`m sure they can come up with something appropriate.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Patriotism is a good thing

Yes, it is. But singing a dirge and saluting a piece of cloth is not patriotism. Especially if you're only doing it because you've been told to, or because it's the 'done thing' or because you don't want to be the only one not doing it.

Telling people they ought to be doing these things - isn't that about power?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Patriotism is warped. There is no need for it anymore. No need for countries, either.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Cleo,

The issue at hand is that state-run universities were urged [by the government] on Tuesday to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies, as well as other events.

You object, it seems, to the state "telling" people to sing the national anthem and salute the flag. I think your choice of words is perhaps not the best. "Telling" can mean many things: telling as a suggestion, telling as urging. And there is telling as compunction. Ex: "My mom told me: "Clean your room. Now." And there is telling as a command with a credible threat of force. "The guy came up to me, pulled a gun, and told me to give him my wallet."

Most here agree that forcing people to salute the flag and sing the national anthem is wrong.

Here, Shimomura added that his request does not impinge on a university’s freedom and that it is up to each institution to make an appropriate decision.

I do not think this rises to the level of force or compunction.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Just to clear this issue up for some of the above.

The difference between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does, and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

But singing a dirge and saluting a piece of cloth is not patriotism.

Depends on how one feels for that piece of cloth. Some flags represent or should represent honor, virtue, heritage and pride.

Telling people they ought to be doing these things - isn't that about power?

Kimigayo sounds very somber. It's up to individual Japanese to decide whether or not to sing it. Politics=power. Japanese nationals=a sheepish silent majority.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ Jim McBride at Jun. 17, 2015 - 10:58PM JST "Americans in school must say the pledge and salute their flag by placing hand over the heart starting with elementary school children. I don't think jail is an issue but there is secular punishment at the school for refusing this I believe"

When I was in high school in the USA in the late 60s there was a flag in the corner of every classroom and we were required to say the Pledge of Allegiance first thing every morning. Many of us were against what our government was doing in Vietnam and had major objections to being forced to recite the pledge. After some amount of petitioning and bargaining the result was that those of us who were able to convince our parents to give us written permission were excused from reciting the pledge or placing our hand on our heart. We, in turn, promised to stand quietly and face in the direction of the flag while the other students said the pledge. Some of the students had originally objected to having to stand, or wanted to stand with their backs towards the flag, so this was quite a compromise for them.

I think any schools having such pledges or playing of national anthems should allow from the beginning for some such options and have an atmosphere so that students can feel comfortable with whichever choice they make.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Unless this nation has finally become China they can't force them to do it. well its bascially like this, raise the national flag sing the Japanese anthem or well cut you funding and give it to the Universities that do...........PLEASE!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have seen assertions that patriotism is nice or even good, where it is by some sophistry separated from nationalism, but I have not seen any supportable argument for it. And that is probably because there are none. Even human cohesiveness can be achieved much better by supranational ideals and goals. This is the 21st century, not the 19th.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But singing a dirge and saluting a piece of cloth is not patriotism.

Depends on how one feels for that piece of cloth.

Exactly - how one feels. Not how the govmint says everyone should act with no regard to feeling. And the govmint certainly has no place telling people how they should feel.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Am trying to figure out why the double negative on my previous comment. Is it because I do not say their Pledge of Allegiance? I am Japanese national and will never be an American citizen. My allegiance is to the government of Japan. Oh If you do not want to stand when they play the Kimigayo stay seated.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The slow stroll to mediocrity. Don't think, nor feel. Do as you are told. Lame. Love your country , even though it doesn't love you back.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Roads are also funded by public money. Following the government's logic it would be natural to insist that motorists sing the national anthem before venturing out in their cars. Perhaps the government could demand cars play the national anthem before their engines will start?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

And the govmint certainly has no place telling people how they should feel.

Which, again, is not going on here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The govt of Japan will be overjoyed at your allegiance, Yuri.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Its nobodys business but japans. Move on!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Its nobodys business but japans. Move on!

That's not true. Universities are international places of learning. Yes, the minister was talking about national universities but that's only because he has no influence with private universities.

It's a stupid idea and the university presidents should just ignore this idiot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JT reader comments on this topic have generated a significant level of response on the Japanese blog "Gekiyaku" which posts Japanese translations of many of Japan Today's English-language comments, along with our user names.

I'm glad to see our comments reaching the Japanese-speaking community. And with that in mind, I hope that we all try to keep our comments civil and constructive.

Here is the link: <www.gekiyaku.com/archives/45204353.html>

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"but still Japan does not need to follow Britain or any other country."

If it weren't for Britain and the US, there wouldn't be any universities in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A nation has a "right" to determine certain aspects of life such as ceremonies and practices to assure its "survival". To have "unity" among its population is not nationalism as much as a "prerequisite" a "requirement" to survive as a group. That is manifested in different ways. One most essential is the language.

Language has within it the essence of a group of people, be it a community, a society or a nation. It is the essence of communication, of preservation of thoughts, ideas, emotions, feelings, history, culture, and everything else imaginable.

It is so important that in Christianity, the first saying was "at first there was the word".

That language is used to state in pledges and songs to capture, motivate and consolidate the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of people to maintain order and stability as well as unity within a population.

That is something that is being lost in many parts of the world, especially with the USA when many States and even the Federal government stopped requiring the use of English as the required and primary language of and for the country. A similar problem exists in Canada and most obviously in Europe and the Middle East. Language itself has their unique values and allegiances which influences and sometimes controls ones thoughts, feeling and even actions of people.

Therefore if one does not desire a "divided" group or nation, a single language and certain practices or ceremonies are needed. In Christianity and Islam it is the formal prayers unique to their own groups.

As a resident of this host country, I find no objection to what is being required and do not have a need to contradict and dictate my opinions as long as that does not prevent me from expressing my opinions as I was allowed here.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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