Top court rules in favor of national anthem order
Japan’s Supreme Court has ruled for the first time that it is constitutional to require teachers and staff to sing the national anthem at graduations and other school ceremonies.
A panel of the court handed down the decision on Monday, rejecting an appeal by Yuji Saruya, a former teacher at a Tokyo high school.
Saruya had argued that his school principal’s order to sing the anthem, based on a 2003 decision by the Tokyo Metropolitan board of education, violates constitutional freedom of thought and conscience.
The plaintiff said the education board’s policy forces teachers and school personnel to stand up before the flag and sing the song in unison.
Presiding Justice Masahiko Sudo rejected the appeal, ruling that while the order may indirectly constrain freedom of thought for those who view the anthem negatively due to its links with prewar militarism, it is necessary to achieve order at school events.
The Tokyo metropolitan government has taken disciplinary action against more than 430 school personnel who have refused to obey the order. Many of them have filed lawsuits.
Saruya told reporters it’s regrettable that the top court rejected his appeal. He said schools should be free from political pressure, and he urged authorities not to intervene.
Monday, May 30, 2011 20:27 +0900 (JST)