• Kyodo

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A retired teacher filed a lawsuit with the Osaka District Court on Monday, arguing that she was penalized as the result of an unconstitutional prefectural ordinance mandating that the national anthem, “Kimigayo,” be sung at school events.

It’s the first lawsuit to question the constitutionality of the controversial 2011 ordinance, according to her lawyer.

While a teacher at a prefectural high school, Hiroko Tsujitani, 61, refused to stand and sing the national anthem at a graduation ceremony on March 1, 2013. School authorities cut her pay based on the ordinance, which obliges teachers and staff to stand and sing the national anthem during school ceremonies.

Tsujitani left the job at the end of March upon reaching the retirement age.

Arguing that the ordinance violates the constitutional right of freedom of thought and conscience, she is demanding that the penalty be revoked and ¥1 million in compensation.

The ordinance states it is aimed at helping children who will lead the next generation to respect tradition and love the nation and their hometowns, and to tighten discipline at schools.

“Kimigayo” was legally designated the national anthem in 1999.

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