Board: 'Kimigayo' rule isn't force

Texts that say teachers told to obey axed


The Tokyo board of education has labeled two history textbooks by Jikkyo Shuppan Co. as inappropriate for public high schools because they state some local governments are forcing teachers to sing the national anthem and display the Hinomaru flag.

Teachers nationwide have been disciplined for not displaying the national flag or singing “Kimigayo” at school ceremonies, as ordered by their local authorities, and many have sued in vain. Among them were 13 former Tokyo teachers whose punishment meted out by the metropolitan government was upheld in June 2011 by the Supreme Court. They thus failed in their attempt to be rehired after violating a metropolitan directive.

Public high schools normally select the textbooks they wish to use and ask their local board of education for approval. But if the board withholds consent, the schools cannot use them, as might be the case for the two history textbooks after Thursday’s decision by the Tokyo board.

It is rare for a board of education to reject textbooks that have already been cleared by the screening process of the education ministry.

In the fiscal 2011 national screening process, which assessed textbooks for use from the current fiscal year, Jikkyo Shuppan’s history books initially stated: “The government has unveiled during Diet deliberations that the law does not force citizens to sing the national anthem and hoist the national flag. But in reality, that is not the case.”

Experts conducting the screening process at the time questioned the final sentence, which was subsequently approved with the following revision: “Some local governments are forcing public servants to do so.”

However, the Tokyo board of education said it deems it the “responsibility of teachers to properly instruct” students to sing “Kimigayo” and display the Hinomaru. It further said the description in the textbooks is not in line with its position and concluded they are “not suitable for use” by public high schools.

Last year, the Tokyo board notified 17 high schools that the Jikkyo Shuppan textbooks were not in line with its policy. None of the schools selected the textbooks.

On Thursday, the board said it decided to disclose its position so schools in the capital will make appropriate decisions in the future when selecting textbooks for their students.

“It is the responsibility of teachers (to instruct students to sing “Kimigayo” and display the Hinomaru),” an official of the board said. “We have not forced them to do so.”

  • Steven R. Simon

    Simon says that if people live in Japan, breathe Japanese air, drink Japanese water, enjoy the benefits of Japanese society, economy and public education, then they owe some bit of gratitude and loyalty to the Japanese nation.

    • 思德

      When I grew up in school, I said the pledge of allegiance proudly, but the truth of the matter is that governments do thousands of things every year that shouldn’t be engendering of loyalty. Japan and Japanese people existed before the Honimaru. The government should show respect to the people who empower it, not the other way around. Citizens are not slaves, but governments often confuse the two. A citizen owes nothing to his government, because it is employed by him to carry out its duties. But a slave owes allegiance to his master. You can be enthusiastic about your government as a citizen. You must fein affection for it if you are a slave.

      Far too many people are brainwashed into thinking their government and their country are the same thing.

    • echykr

      Simon seems to have missed the point completely, as the article is about being TOLD to be patriotic according to government standards, and no dissent is allowed otherwise.

    • Charlie Sommers

      Perhaps Simon should read this quote by the American writer James Baldwin. There may very well be a few Japanese who feel the same way.

      “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

      There is a great deal of difference between “patriotism” and “nationalism.

  • Brian Southwick

    Does Simon say those insightful and inspiring things? Brian says that one can best express one’s love for country through dissent.

  • Al_Martinez

    Al says that forced jingoism never turns out well.

  • Steven R. Simon

    Simon says that if you drink water provided by a municipal utility paid for by taxpayers, walk or drive on streets and roads paid for by taxpayers, have an education paid for in whole or in part by taxpayers, and have an income in a currency provided by a sovereign, some degree of loyalty and gratitude is due.