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Police on Friday raided the house of a former Tokyo high school teacher who distributed copies of a magazine story at a school commencement ceremony dealing with the controversy over the Hinomaru flag and “Kimigayo” anthem.

Itabashi High School, located in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward, and the Tokyo metropolitan board of education filed a criminal complaint against the man for intrusion and obstruction of business. The incident caused commencement proceedings to be delayed five minutes.

Police said they confiscated teachers’ union flyers from his house in Saitama Prefecture.

The Hinomaru and “Kimigayo” are legally Japan’s national flag and anthem, but they remain contentious, because they are viewed by some as symbols of the nation’s militaristic past.

According to the school board, the 63-year-old ex-teacher, who worked at the high school up until his retirement two years ago, was an invited guest to the March 11 graduation ceremony. He began distributing copies of the article and later shouted at the school principal after being ordered to leave.

Following the police raid, the former teacher said, “I distributed the copies in an orderly manner, and the attendees at the ceremony know that I did not throw the proceedings into confusion. The police action is based on a false complaint and is very strange.”

Last October, the metro board of education issued a notice to school principals requiring that during enrollment and graduation ceremonies, the Hinomaru flag be “hung at the front of the stage” and “teachers and school staff stand facing the national flag and sing the national anthem.”

It also stipulated that those who do not follow the principals’ directions will be subject to penalties.

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