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HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) The Hiroshima District Court rejected a lawsuit Thursday filed by current and retired teachers seeking the nullification of disciplinary actions imposed on them for refusing to stand and sing “Kimigayo,” the national anthem, at school ceremonies.

In handing down the ruling to 45 plaintiffs, which included relatives of the teachers, Judge Yoshinari Hashimoto said standing to sing the anthem is “no more than a social courtesy” and being ordered to do so will “not infringe on the freedom of thought and consciousness.”

He also reckoned that “disobeying the order will interrupt the procedure of the ceremony and lead the students and other participants to lose confidence (in the school).”

“The admonition was the lightest disciplinary action and it cannot be acknowledged that there was an abuse of discretion,” the judge said.

The teachers were reprimanded by the Hiroshima prefectural board of education between 2001 and 2004 for not following the principal’s order to stand when they were supposed to sing the anthem.

As for lawsuits dealing with singing the anthem at schools, the Supreme Court determined in 2007 that it was constitutional for a public school principal to order a music teacher to play the piano to accompany the singing of “Kimigayo” at a school ceremony.

There is still a sense of public opposition against the Hinomaru and “Kimigayo” because the symbols dredge up potent memories of the war.

After serving as the de facto flag and anthem for decades, the Diet enacted a law in 1999 to officially designate the Hinomaru as the national flag and “Kimigayo” as the anthem.

There is no official English translation for the symbols. The Hinomaru is unofficially referred to as the sun or rising sun flag, while “Kimigayo” refers to “His Majesty’s Reign.”

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