Tokyo court rejects teachers' lawsuit over the flag

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For some Japanese, the national flag — a red sun on a white background — is a patriotic symbol. For others, it is an abhorrent relic of Japan’s past imperialism.

The longstanding debate came to a head Thursday, when a Tokyo court rejected a lawsuit filed by teachers who say they were unjustly punished for refusing to salute and sing the national anthem at school functions.

Since 2003, the Tokyo Board of Education has required public school teachers to stand and face the rising-sun flag and sing the national anthem, which expresses reverence for the emperor of Japan.

A group of 172 teachers and staff members said the board breached the Japanese Constitution when it censured them for refusing to follow the directives. They demanded damages of nearly $5,600, each.

One plaintiff was required to undergo ‘‘special retraining’’ and write a self-examination. The Japanese Constitution, drafted by U.S. occupying forces after World War II, guarantees freedom of thought.

But Shigeru Nakanishi, the presiding judge of the Tokyo District Court, rejected the plaintiffs’ assertions, saying the board acted within constitutional boundaries.

Toru Kondo, a teacher who led the lawsuit, said, ‘‘The ruling is blatantly unjust,’’ and added that the plaintiffs would appeal the decision.

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Randll Reese Besch - 4/1/2009

That after the conquest of Germany all symbols of the warring party were removed including the flag and its swastika. However in Japan nothing was done about the symbols or the flag which I cannot understand. Japan made their flag 'official' in the 1990's which is another oddity to it. Why didn't the USA ban all elements of the Japanese ruling class symbology even if the emperor remained as a figurehead?