Dive deeper into Japan
with Japan correspondent
Kjeld Duits
Home » Archives » November 2004 » Thousands Demonstrate Against Forced Observance of National Flag and Anthem

Thousands Demonstrate Against Forced Observance of National Flag and Anthem

Monday, November 8, 2004 Posted: 11:52 AM JST [SLIDE SHOW]

Photos of Japan by Kjeld DuitsSome 5,000 teachers and supporters demonstrated against the forced observance of Japan's national flag and anthem during school ceremonies in Tokyo last Saturday. The demonstration appears to have received little attention on Japan's news programs, but the issue worries many.

During the past year more than 240 teachers have been punished by Tokyo authorities for not singing the national anthem and standing up during the raising of the national flag. The Tokyo Board of Education obligates all school personnel and students to observe the national flag and anthem during ceremonies, and threatens non-observers with penalties and eventual dismissal.

Teachers believe that they and their students should be allowed to decide on their own free will. They also see a reoccurrence of militarism in the edict, a believe enforced by Japan's deployment of troops in Iraq and calls for the rewriting of war-renouncing article 9 of Japan's constitution.

After more than 4 hours of speeches and appeals the 5,000 demonstrators marched to Nagata-cho, Tokyo's government district.

Keywords: national_news politics right photo_essay

*   *   *

5 comments so far post your own

1 | At 01:47pm on Nov 11 2004, Martin Hill wrote:
I strongly beleive that the techniques of various `penalties` is not just a weak act, but encouraging weak people to continue to be didruptive, and form weak views about what it means to live in a society, and encourages many weak actions among the people of the cuurrent but also future community. The weak actions of teachers at ceremonies by the disruptive behaviour is very damaging to the society that we have. Encouraging students to become rebellious at such a young age is a discrace.
The teachers should not be warned of a final dismissal, but rather should simply be expected to resign.
There would be many MORE suitable and also capable people to take the place of the teachers who resign, should the government be serious about making a reform of the society and of childrens education in Japan.
An improvement in this society rather than a gradual decline would be an amazing accomplishment for Japan if they were able to do this.
Money should be invested to find the right type of people who are prepared and willing to be good role models and work in Education, and they should be recruited and trained. Schools would need to be ready for changes too.
Students would flourish and benefit from the changes.
Children would make a better Japan for the future should schools take serious steps to improve behaviour patterns of children for the better.
Good Luck.
Thank you.
2 | At 02:12pm on Nov 11 2004, Kjeld Duits wrote:
I strongly disagree with Martin Hill's opinion. You don't make a better society by forcing people to do things that contradict their conscience.

Forcing people to obey no matter what creates a dangerous society. We have seen this in early Showa Japan and Nazi Germany.

What children need to learn is that there is good and bad, and that you must choose the good, even if people pressure you to do bad. That there are differences between people and that you must tolerate and accept those differences.

You have to teach them to think for themselves and make their own decisions without hurting others. You don't do that by forcing them to obey.

During the Taisho Period Japan was a free and extremely democratic society that created much hope. During the Showa Era those freedoms were taken away one by one until none were left. We all know the disastrous results. Japan didn't only destroy much of East Asia, in the end it destroyed itself. Never again do we want to walk this road.

For the dangers of unrestrained obedience, read about Stanley Milgram's classic experiments on obedience to authority. The results of his famous research are extremely sobering.
3 | At 09:33pm on Nov 19 2004, Jeff Bryant wrote:
This issue is very interesting in light of the Emperor's own comments on the subject, "Better to not force people to do this"
He made these comments to the head of the Tokyo board of education at a fall tea party at the palace. This was widely reported in the press because it was so spontaneous and unlike the emperor to make such direct and unequivocal remarks.
4 | At 11:27pm on Feb 03 2005, Rob Trautvetter wrote:
Do you know when the Japanese flag was officially recognised? It was quite recently I seem to remember, maybe the last two or three years. Until then, since the war Japan was officially flagless. Is this correct?
5 | At 11:41pm on Feb 03 2005, Kjeld wrote:
That is correct, Rob.

In 1854, if my memory serves me right, the Tokugawa government issued a law making "a red circle on white cloth", the so called Hinomaru, the official flag for Japanese ships.

During the Meiji Period this law became invalid. However it was continuously recognized as the national flag of Japan.

In August 1999 a new law finally made the Hinomaru Japan's official flag.
Subscribe to newsletter:
First name:
Daily:   Biweekly:

(Unsubscribe or Update)

We Recommend:


The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press

Syndicate iKjeld news

Powered By Greymatter

© 2001~ iKjeld.com/Kjeld Duits. All rights reserved.
To publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material, please contact us.