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Regarding the May 27 article “Hashimoto stalks anthem foes“: Some people criticize Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto as dictatorial for pushing a proposed ordinance that would force public school teachers to stand when the “Kimigayo” national anthem is sung at school. However, the proposal should be fairly evaluated from an educational point of view in consideration of the influence it may have on teachers and students.

When we work for an entity or act as a group, there are always basic manners or rules, either explicitly described in documents or not, that we need to abide by. For instance, it is natural for workers in private enterprise to follow such rules, and they are penalized or, in the worst case, fired if they fail to do so.

For public school teachers, standing up and singing “Kimigayo” should be considered one of those basic rules. Opponents of such a rule say the song reminds them of war or invasion. That’s one thing, but their following basic rules is quite another.

Teachers are in the position of serving as an example for children on how to act. If children see teachers not standing up for the anthem, they may imitate them, or mistake the act as a symbol of individualism or freedom of individual thought.

We have been taught in Japan to adjust to others or to do the same things as others. Doing different things from others has usually been restrained. Yet, a lot of people these days talk about the importance of being unique by differentiating themselves from others. It is true that the concept of individualism is valuable, but we need to correctly understand that the concept of individual freedom comes only after we abide by the basic manners and rules of the group we’re in.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

yoshihiro akabane

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