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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Court OKs punishment of teachers who don't stand for national anthem
This is just disgusting.  A Japanese high court has reversed a lower court's decision, making it legal once again for schools to punish teachers who don't stand for the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo.  The anthem has some serious problems, as Wikipedia points out:  "Along with the Hinomaru flag, Kimi ga Yo is claimed by some to be a symbol of Japanese imperialism and militarism."

Many of the people who are strongly in favour of this anthem are right-wingers who believe in the absolute power of the Emperor.  For those of you who have forgotten your Japanese history, these are the same people who got Japan into WWII, deny any Japanese atrocities and, in general, are pretty oldschool hardasses.

This is their victory, and it does sadden me a bit.  From The Mainichi article:

"Their act of not standing up caused distrust toward school education among parents and other people, and the punishment of pay cuts was lawful," Presiding Judge Shoichi Maruyama said in handing down the ruling.

[...]

Regarding the disciplinary action against the teachers, Maruyama said, "They disrupted the atmosphere of a ceremonial event, violating the Local Public Service Law. Disciplinary action is appropriate."

In April 2005, the Fukuoka District Court had ruled that singing the national anthem as a school event did not violate the neutrality of education nor violate freedom of thought as stipulated by the Constitution.

That's right, the one thing you're guaranteed to learn in Japanese schools: blind obedience.
BLEARGH
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Well then. The legacy of MacArthur continues uninterrupted. Japan really is turning out to be a 1950s-styled democracy, just as he intended.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Had an interesting conversation with Zumi about this.  While it's easy to initially say that this ruling is a preposterous assertion of right-wing politics, there's another side (or two) to it.

  • It seems that the teachers belonged to a far-left group that, in essence, opposed everything the government said or did. 
  • The Ministry of Education has rules to prevent rogue teachers from teaching kids any kind of personal belief.  This is a good thing, IMO.

So you've got a tough call to make.  If you prevent all teachers from teaching all kinds of personal beliefs, you can prevent the fringe element from poisoning the minds of children.  Conversely, you must rely on the state to provide fair boundaries for the teachers to observe, and that doesn't always happen.

Quote by Zumi:
i can see that point, you know. if a teacher is heavily religious and try to brain wash and make a cult with all the kids in class, that would be really dangerous.
Quote by NFG:
in this particular case, I can see that it would be better to let the teacher do what they believe, but...  If you say that's OK, what happens to the next insane teacher when he tries to do something we don't agree with?

It'd be nice if the courts SAID as much.  "It is a difficult thing to enforce standards like these, however we must be aware of the dangers of letting every teacher do whatever they like..."

It sounds so much more acceptable than "Yeah, you do what the emperor says, bitch."
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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interestingly a news report has popped up on Japan Today, which basically says the same thing as the one on Mainichi from December last year.

Quote by Japan Today:
The Tokyo District Court rejected on Thursday a damages suit filed by 172 Tokyo public school teachers, who claimed it is unconstitutional to punish them as they refused to stand up in front of the Hinomaru flag in singing the ‘‘Kimigayo’’ anthem at school ceremonies.
I'm not sure how this is relevent or different from the Mainichi article, which has since gone 404.

While searching for it on Mainichi, I found this interesting article about the Prince hotel chain cancelling 190 reserved rooms for a meeting of the Japan Teachers Union.  Their eplanation was very interesting:

Quote by Prince Hotels president Yukihiro Watanabe:
"We thought that the activities of right-wing groups and so on would cause neighboring residents and our guests a lot of trouble, and we had no other option," police quoted Watanabe as saying.

Another representative of Prince said:

Quote by Prince rep:
"We refused to let the Japan Teacher's Union use our banquet hall out of our sheer desire to avoid trouble to neighboring residents and so on. As a result, we decided that the accommodation would also be unnecessary," the representative said. "Our primary aim was not to refuse accommodation."

Right, so you canceled the rooms 'cause you didn't think they'd want 'em after you refused to give them a meeting place.  Nice way to avoid the letter of the law there. =)
BLEARGH
This post was edited on 2009-03-27, 11:35 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Well, a similar article has reared its head on JapanToday ...  today:

YOKOHAMA — A court rejected on Thursday a lawsuit filed by a group of 135 Kanagawa public school teachers who are opposed to singing the ‘‘Kimigayo’’ national anthem at ceremonies—an act they argue infringes on freedom of thought. The Yokohama District Court ruled that standing up and singing the ‘‘Kimigayo’’ anthem at the instruction of school principals in the prefecture are part of rituals and not considered anything forced on the basis of a specific kind of thought.

That's a fairly interesting legal decision: When you're forced to do something you've thought about and decided against, that's not infringing your freedom of thought, 'cause most people do it without thinking.

Wow, talk about tortuous.

The source of this seems to be the Kyodo news service but there's no publically available information there.  Over on JapanTimes though I found this June 2 article discussing public reaction to the anthem:

When the singing of "Kimigayo," Japan's national anthem, was announced, I saw the principal, vice principal and visiting school board officials stand up. None of the parents joined them. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a few parents who were videotaping sit down,...

[...]

Is it just possible that a greater number of citizens would stand up freely if they knew that not even one of their fellow citizens would be punished for staying put or rewarded for standing?
BLEARGH
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As mentioned two posts ago, Prince Hotels canceled the reservations of 190 teachers, claiming to fear right-wing retaliation.  Well, that's cost them a fair amount of money, according to Japan Today:

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ordered Prince Hotels Inc to pay about 290 million yen in compensation to the Japan Teachers Union and its members, as sought by the plaintiffs, for canceling reservations the union made for its annual meeting in 2007. ‘‘The unilateral cancellation by the hotel operator is not based on any legal grounds, and it is clear that it committed non-fulfillment of an obligation,’’ Presiding Judge Kiyotaka Kono said. ‘‘It should be legally guaranteed that people can attend meetings in order to exchange views so they can establish and develop their own thoughts and personalities.’’

This probably wouldn't have been illegal, until they disobeyed the Japanese courts to do it:

The hotel operator also refused to follow an order issued by the Tokyo District and Tokyo High courts to allow the union to use the hotel as a meeting venue.

The Japanese right wingers are freaky, freaky lunatics.  I'd want to avoid them too, but it'd cost less to take that risk than fly in the face of the law.
BLEARGH
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