The Tokyo metropolitan board of education started a mandatory training program Monday for teachers who have been reprimanded for failing to stand up and sing the national anthem during school ceremonies.

Some of the teachers called for a court injunction against the program in mid-July, saying it violates their individual rights to freedom of belief and thought.

While the Tokyo District Court turned down the request for the injunction on July 23, saying the specifics of the program were unclear, it noted, “Should an identical training program be forced repeatedly (on teachers) and their freedom of thought infringed upon, it may violate the Constitution or law.”

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan School Personnel In-service Training Center, the program, dubbed “training to prevent a recurrence of service accident,” is designed to raise teachers’ awareness about their role as public servants for educational services and to urge them to reflect on their actions.

It will be offered to around 200 teachers. Reprimands and other forms of punishment were meted out to 243 teachers, but 43 subsequently quit their jobs.

The teachers, along with the principals of the schools they belong to, will be lectured on their obligations of service and legal provisions, according to the center.

Participants are divided into four groups, with some receiving closed-door training Monday and the remainder a week later.

A one-hour lecture on the Local Public Service Law and service obligations was given Monday morning to around 60 teachers and they were asked to submit reports on the lecture, according to participants.

The lecturer, a metropolitan government official, did not touch on the “Kimigayo” issue, but stressed that they should fulfill their obligations as public servants, the participants said.

About 300 teachers and supporters rallied in front of the center in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward to lodge a protest, demanding the education board stop its “thought control.”

On July 16, 137 teachers filed for the injunction against the program as well as a suit seeking 10,000 yen in damages per person.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.