Hiroko Arai, a Japanese school teacher, is being punished because she refused to stand and sing the “Kimgayo” national anthem of her nation. She would not sing it in front of the Hinomaru national flag on the belief they symbolize Japanese militarism. Her refusal was in direct violation of a notice issued by the Tokyo metropolitan board of education on Oct. 23, 2003, that directed school principals to order teachers to stand and sing the anthem or else be reprimanded. “I told my students, ” she said, “to make their own decisions on what they should no, not unquestioningly follow the majority or obey those in power” said the 62 year-old woman who has taught for 35 years.
Ms. Arai and eleven other techers have filed a suit whose decision should be announced next week. All twelve have been refused part-time work after retiring because of their refusal to stand. The plaintiffs say it goes against a parliamentary agreement that authorities should not forcibly impose the anthem and flag on the public. Ms. Arai pointed out she had children of Korean heritage whose nation was brutalized by those waving the flag and she believes they had a right to remain seated and refuse to sing the anthem.
The Tokyo District Court upheld the plaintiff’s petitioin and the case will now be decided by the Tokyo High Court. Many educators are concerned that teachers be allowed to refuse obeying orders they deem to be unreasonable. Let’s hope the Tokyo High Court agrees with that view.