Seventy-five teachers filed appeals with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s personnel commission Monday to nullify punishment the board of education meted out on them last week for refusing to stand and sing the national anthem at commencements.
The high school teachers, who are among 171 reprimanded, claim the principals’ orders forcing them to stand and sing “Kimigayo” violate the Constitution and that it is abnormal to punish them for not standing up only one time.
Some teachers are expected to continue to refuse to stand and sing the anthem at enrollment ceremonies that will begin Tuesday.
Last Wednesday, the Tokyo board of education reprimanded the 171 teachers and refused to renew the contracts of five teachers who had been re-employed after retirement. On Monday, the board discussed similar punishment for some elementary and junior high school teachers.
Those reprimanded included a music teacher who refused to play the piano for the national anthem.
The board tightened its policy in October, requiring schools to hoist the Hinomaru flag on the stage and teachers to stand and sing the anthem facing the flag.
The tougher stance on reprimanding teachers who refuse to do so generated criticism from teachers and members of the public, who argue it violates freedom of thought and conscience as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Hinomaru and “Kimigayo” were defined under law as Japan’s national flag and anthem in 1999. But their status remains a sensitive issue due to their symbolic links to the Imperial system and Japan’s militarist past.