The Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo, is not only the world’s shortest national anthem: it is also one of the most controversial.
The song has not changed since the prewar period, and was consistently sung throughout the postwar years despite not being the official national anthem. In fact, ‘Kimigayo’ only became legally recognised as the national anthem in 1999, when a school principal committed suicide unable to resolve a dispute between the Hiroshima education board, who required the song to be performed at ceremonies, and the teachers at his school, who were opposed to it.
Critics of the anthem claim that it harks back to an era of nationalist imperialism and militarism that Japan ought to leave in the past, while supporters of the song claim that it is not as simple as modern history, and that it recalls a deeper sense of uniquely Japanese identity.
During this year’s graduation ceremonies, controversy has arisen once again due to the refusal of 9 teachers in Osaka Prefecture to stand and sing the anthem. The situation is further complicated by an Osaka prefectural bylaw introduced in 2011, which requires staff and students at public schools to stand and sing the anthem, or face disciplinary measures by the education board.
This is not the first time that Osaka teachers have stood up by refusing to stand up; last year 32 teachers refused to sing, prompting mayor Hashimoto Toru to declare that “It was good that criminals who are intent on breaking the rules have risen to the surface”.
From Yahoo! Japan:
Osaka Prefectural Education Committee: 9 Teachers Did Not Sing ‘Kimigayo’
On March 4, the Osaka prefectural education committee announced that in the graduation ceremonies held in the 95 public schools in Osaka up until March 1, 9 teachers from 7 schools did not stand and sing the national anthem, ‘Kimigayo’, as is set out by the Kimigayo bylaw. Education committee policy is to issue a warning to the teachers concerned.
Comments from Yahoo! Japan:
Oh well done, doing that in front of the students when they’re the ones who are supposed to warn the students who aren’t singing.
Teachers who don’t stick to the rules don’t have the right to be educators.
You’re free to have a personal philosophy, but if you have to be able to put it aside in this case.
For bastards like this, who don’t fulfill their duty and who just insist on freedom, to be teachers! I feel sorry for the students.
I wonder which country those 9 people are from.
Teachers who have no concept of themselves as Japanese can’t use the heavy taxes we pay. Get them to resign immediately.
Kick ’em out!
Are they identity frauds who are just pretending to be Japanese?
It’s laid out by a bylaw, so they have to do it.
If you can’t sing Kimigayo, then you can fuck off out of Japan.
It’s a good bylaw, it roots out the zainichi.
Standing for the national anthem is quite reasonable, I think…Which country doesn’t pay respect to its national anthem?
They should get the sack.
They’re bound to be zainichi teachers.
Nice one for making a bad atmosphere during the ceremony. What a selfish bunch.
They should get up and sing even if they don’t like it!? They’re just the worst, they could have just mimed it, they should refrain from being so blatant!
Look, it’s the national anthem. At the very least, stand for it. Then, the people should sing Kimigayo. The point is, it’s a cushy job, and those buggers just want to complain about the system.
Civil servants again, eh?