Regarding the Sept. 12 Kyodo article “Town eyes subsidy for residents to buy flag“: The plan (by the Nakanoto municipal government, Ishikawa Prefecture) to subsidize the purchase of national flags to encourage more people to fly the flag demonstrates just how out of touch politicians are with the common people.
I have not studied the issue in depth, but I assert that the lack of flag-flying on national holidays has less to do with financial hardship and more to do with the spectacularly low approval rating of the prime minister and the Cabinet.
Flying the flag, or choosing not to, is a form of political speech. Not flying the flag is not unpatriotic. It is inappropriate to use public money to encourage or suppress any form of speech. I agree on this point with the journalist quoted in the article, Noriaki Ikezoe.
The statement by Mayor Eizo Sugimoto — “As Japanese citizens, (we) should fly the national flag …” — demonstrates a potentially dangerous attitude toward freedom of expression. If Mayor Sugimoto wants more people to fly the flag, he should earn the respect and support of his constituents.
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.