A former teacher filed a lawsuit at the Osaka District Court for being penalized when she refused to sing the national anthem, Kimigayo. 61-year old retired high school teacher Hiroko Tsujitani pressed charges to the court saying that the prefecture’s mandate of standing up and singing the national anthem is unconstitutional.
Kimigayo, which was elected as the national anthem of Japan in 1999, was the subject of a 2011 ordinance requiring schools and staff to stand and sing during ceremonies. The ordinance was established to teach children in schools tradition and imbibe a nationalistic spirit for their country and hometowns. It was also implemented to tighten discipline in school, which would require everyone to stand and sing. During a graduation ceremony in the school where Tsujitani taught, she did not stand up and sing the anthem when it was being played. School officials promptly cut her pay as penalty for disrespecting the ordinance.
Tsujitani is disputing the constitutionality of the ordinance, saying that it is a violation of the citizen’s freedom of thought and conscience since it is requiring everyone to follow it without regard of what they feel about it. The case filed to the court is the first one to question the legality of the ordinance. Tsujitani is demanding that the penalty subjected to her be repealed and be paid 1 million yen (approx. US$9,600) in damages.
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