Far Out Friday: Teacher’s pay cut for snubbing anthem

by Robert Ballantyne15 Jul 2016

A Japanese court has ruled in favour of a school which cut the pay of a teacher because she did not stand during the singing of the national anthem.

The Jiji Press reported that Osaka teacher, Hiroko Shimizu, 63, was accused of ignoring an all-rise order for the national anthem during a graduation ceremony, held in 2013.

The school punished Shimizu by cutting her pay, prompting her to file a case against the school, demanding that education authorities in Osaka reverse its decision.

However, last week, the Osaka District Court upheld the decision. Osaka District Court ­judge, Hiroyuki Naito, said Shimizu had “put her own sense of values before the maintenance of civil servant discipline.”

He added that the order to stand for the singing of the anthem was not about forcing participants to follow any ideology, but to ensure that “the ceremony proceeded smoothly and order was maintained”.

Shimizu has since appealed to a higher court.

In recent years, several of Japan’s teachers have clashed with school administrators over the anthem, with some saying it celebrates Japan’s past militarism, in which soldiers went to war in their ruler’s name.

Nationalist Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has been accused of trying to play down Japan’s World War II history and seeking to revise the country’s Pacifist constitution.

In 2012, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that penalising teachers for not standing to sing the anthem was constitutional, but last year the Tokyo District Court awarded millions of dollars to a group of teachers who were punished for refusing to sing the song.

Prime Minister Abe told parliament last year that raising the national flag and standing to sing the anthem at school ceremonies should be done not only in elementary and secondary institutions, but also at public universities.

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