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Tuesday, March 6, 2007
'Kimigayo' snub stings another teacher
By JUN HONGO
The Tokyo metropolitan board of education punished a high school teacher Monday who refused to play the piano accompaniment to the "Kimigayo" national anthem during a school ceremony in November.
The punishment, including a 10 percent pay cut, marked the first meted out since the Tokyo District Court ruled in September that a metropolitan directive that obliged teachers to stand and sing the anthem at school ceremonies violated their freedom of thought.
The metropolitan government filed an appeal and the case is still pending.
Mikiko Ikeda, who teaches music at Hamura High School in western Tokyo, is the 346th teacher to be punished under the directive.
"This is unacceptable," the 58-year-old Ikeda told reporters after she was told of her punishment at a training center in Tokyo for metropolitan school personnel.
Ikeda had received a reprimand for similar charges in April 2005 but was handed Monday's penalties for her second violation.
She said it is impossible to bury her beliefs and play the anthem at school ceremonies.
"I will not stop fighting for what I believe in," she said, hinting she may sue the board of education.
The directive, issued by the metropolitan government in October 2003, has witnessed split verdicts in a series of lawsuits over its legitimacy.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled against a 53-year-old elementary school teacher who argued the order violated her freedom of thought and that the reprimand by the board was unlawful.
Toru Kondo, a representative of 230 teachers who have been punished under the directive, predicted that the board of education will undoubtedly issue more penalties later this month against teachers who refuse to comply.