Regarding the March 1 Jiji Press article “Osaka passes ‘Kimigayo’ ordinance”: It is quite right to expect public schoolteachers to stand at attention when the national anthem is played. Showing proper respect for a nation’s flag and other symbols of state should be expected. But should it be a crime to do otherwise?
According to the Osaka Municipal Assembly and Mayor Toru Hashimoto it is. The recent decision by the Osaka city government saying public schoolteachers must stand at attention and sing the Kimigayo at official ceremonies is said to be an attempt to encourage love of country. But you cannot legislate patriotism.
Is forcing teachers against their will to disobey their conscience and sing the national anthem really going to make Japan, supposedly a liberal democracy, a stronger nation-state? In addition to the slight dent of fascism that the Kimigayo ordinance and other such laws have, they are simply a cheap way for politicians to cloak their personal animus in public patriotism.
Rarely does good personal vengeance make for strong public policy. As any good citizen should know, one can allow freedom of expression without agreeing with the opinions expressed.
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.
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