The Tokyo Metropolitan board of education Friday punished 33 public school teachers who refused to stand to face the national flag and sing "Kimigayo," the national anthem, at March graduation ceremonies.

The penalties ranged from warnings to pay cuts and suspensions -- depending on how many times teachers disobeyed orders from principals to honor the flag or sing the anthem.

In October 2003, the metro board of education issued an instruction to principals of metro-run schools, telling them to order all teachers and students to stand and sing the anthem at graduation and entrance ceremonies. It has since punished teachers who disobeyed.