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In the debate on whether teachers should be forced to stand or play piano accompaniment during the singing of the Japanese national anthem, one fundamental question is routinely begged: Why should the national anthem be sung at school opening and graduation ceremonies at all?

In the United States, a country that puts a lot of store in both its flag and anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner” is not sung, nor are the Stars and Stripes prominently displayed, at school ceremonies. The national anthem is, for the most part, only heard at sporting events. In countries where the ultimate aim of education is believed to be the development of the individual’s full potential, it just doesn’t occur to people that they should sing the national anthem at, for instance, a graduation ceremony. I’m curious to hear what the usual practice is in the home countries of other Japan Times readers.

eric hilton

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