Teachers win lost pay over ‘Kimigayo’

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday ordered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to pay ¥27.5 million in lost wages to 13 former high school teachers who were denied postretirement re-employment because they refused to sing the national anthem.

The teachers had been reprimanded between November 2003 and March 2005 for disobeying a metropolitan directive issued in October 2003 that requires all teachers to stand and sing “Kimigayo” while facing the Hinomaru flag during official school ceremonies.

In bringing the suit, they had argued that being denied re-employment contracts was an illegitimate form of retribution by the metropolitan board of education and demanded combined compensation of ¥72.6 million for “emotional distress.”

Presiding Judge Shigeru Nakanishi ruled that the denial of re-employment, based solely on the teachers’ choice not to sing the anthem, was severely lacking in “justifiable reasoning.”