This is an interesting thing, as the national anthem of Japan still praises the Emperor of Japan even though we live in a democracy and the emperor is little more than a figure head. Teachers have lost their jobs over it, because to refuse to sing it at school events is against the rules stated by the Ministry of Education.
Here is some background from wiki,
|Official||Kana (Hiragana)||Rōmaji||English translation|
Chiyo ni yachiyo ni
Iwao to narite
Koke no musu made
|May your reign
Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations,
Until the pebbles
Grow into boulders
Lush with moss
|Poetic English translation by English professor Basil Hall Chamberlain
|Thousands of years of happy reign be thine;
Rule on, my lord, until what are pebbles now
By ages united to mighty rocks shall grow
Whose venerable sides the moss doth line.
Schools have been the center of controversy over both the anthem and the national flag. The Tokyo Board of Education requires the use of both the anthem and flag at events under their jurisdiction. The order requires school teachers to respect both symbols or risk losing their jobs. In 1999, several teachers in Hiroshima refused to put up the anthem while the Hiroshima Education Board demanded that they do so. As the tension arose between them, a vice principal committed suicide. A similar incident in Osaka in 2010 also occurred, with 32 teachers refusing to sing the song in a ceremony. In 2011, 9 more teachers joined the rebellion, along with another 8 in 2012. Hashimoto Toru, the mayor of Osaka, slated the teachers as “It was good that criminals (teachers) who are intent on breaking the rules (of not singing the anthem) have risen to the surface (public)”. Some have protested that such rules violate the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the “freedom of thought, belief and conscience” clause in the Constitution of Japan, but the Board has argued that since schools are government agencies, their employees have an obligation to teach their students how to be good Japanese citizens. Teachers have unsuccessfully brought criminal complaints against Tokyo Governor Shintarō Ishihara and senior officials for ordering teachers to honor the Hinomaru and “Kimigayo”. After earlier opposition, the Japan Teachers Union accepts the use of both the flag and anthem; the smaller All Japan Teachers and Staffs Union still opposes both symbols and their use inside the school system.
In 2006 Katsuhisa Fujita, a retired teacher in Tokyo, was threatened with imprisonment, and fined 200,000 yen (roughly 2,000 US dollars), after he was accused of disturbing a graduation ceremony at Itabashi High School by urging the attendees to remain seated during the playing of the anthem. At the time of Fujita’s sentence, 345 teachers had been punished for refusing to take part in anthem related events, though Fujita is the only man to have been convicted in relation to it. On September 21, 2006, the Tokyo District Court ordered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to pay compensation to the teachers who had been subjected to punishment under the directive of the Tokyo Board of Education. The then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi commented, “It is a natural idea to treat the national anthem importantly”. The ruling has been appealed by the Metropolitan Government. Since October 23, 2003, 410 teachers and school workers have been punished for refusing to stand and sing the anthem as ordered by school principals. Teachers can also be punished if their students do not stand while “Kimigayo” is played during school ceremonies.
On 30 May 2011, and 6 June 2011, two panels of the Supreme Court of Japan ruled that it was constitutional to require teachers to stand in front of the Hinomaru and sing the Kimigayo during school ceremonies. In making the ruling, the panels ratified the decision of the Tokyo High Court in ruling against 13 teachers who had asked for court relief after being disciplined between 2003 and 2005 for refusing to stand and sing the anthem.
Outside of the school system, there was a controversy regarding “Kimigayo” soon after the passage of the 1999 law. A month after the law’s passage, a record containing a performance of “Kimigayo” by Japanese rocker Kiyoshiro Imawano was removed by Polydor records for his next album Fuyu no Jujika. Polydor did not want a record to stir up emotion in Japan; in response, Imawano re-released the album through an independent label with the track in question.
By Jin Okubo author of Love