There was a greater level of compliance this spring with an edict calling for the hoisting of the Hinomaru flag and singing of “Kimigayo” at graduation and admission ceremonies at public schools nationwide, according to a government report.
The Education Ministry survey showed that the number of elementary, junior high and high schools that complied with the ministry order increased considerably from the previous school year.
Last August, the Diet passed a bill that officially recognizes the Hinomaru as Japan’s national flag and “Kimigayo” as the anthem.
According to ministry officials, this development, aside from the enforcement of the law, reflects local government efforts to thoroughly supervise schools.
Previously, schools had a very low rate of compliance.
Of particular note is the increase in the enforced singing of “Kimigayo” — from 87.1 percent to 100 percent of schools — in Hiroshima Prefecture, where a high school principal killed himself in February last year due to pressure from the prefectural board of education to use the anthem, which he and many teachers opposed.
According to the report, the proportion of high schools in Tokyo enforcing use of the anthem jumped from 72 percent to 88.5 percent.
In Mie Prefecture, the ratio of elementary schools where the flag is hoisted at admission ceremonies rose from 94.9 percent to 100 percent.
The 93.3 percent compliance level at high schools in Nara Prefecture and the 85.7 percent rate among Sapporo high schools went up in both areas to 100 percent.
High schools in the city of Osaka, none of which used the flag or anthem last year, complied 100 percent this time.
The survey covered schools in the prefectures of Hokkaido, Kanagawa, Osaka and Hyogo and the cities of Kawasaki, Yokohama and Kobe.
The ministry is currently seeking a written progress report from the prefectures and major cities and will soon announce the official results of its compiled studies.
The question of whether to give official status to the flag and anthem was a sensitive issue because of their association with Japan’s Imperial system and past militarism.