A Japanese court for the first time yesterday punished a teacher for disrespecting the national anthem, which liberals associate with World War II militarism, officials said.
Retired instructor Katsuhisa Fujita, 65, was fined ¥200,000 (US$1,800) but escaped prison time for delaying a graduation ceremony when he urged the audience to stay seated during the national anthem.
The anthem, Kimigayo, or "His Majesty's Reign," praises the emperor. Critics say it harks back to the militarism under late Emperor Hirohito, who was considered divine during World War II.
It is the first known time that a court has punished a teacher over the anthem, although the Tokyo metropolitan education board has disciplined 345 teachers for refusing orders to honor it, a board official said.
"It's clear that there was concern that the defendant's behavior may have negatively impacted the smooth running of the ceremony," Judge Hitoshi Murase of the Tokyo District Court said in handing down the fine.
But he refused prosecutors' demands to imprison Fujita for eight months.
"Considering the actual interruption in the ceremony was short, it is not appropriate to order imprisonment," said the judge, as quoted by Jiji Press.
Fujita, who had retired before the incident, said he was practicing his right to free speech.
"I regard the ¥200,000 fine as opposed to eight months in prison as a de facto acquittal. I will appeal the ruling, though," he said.
Japan has gradually been adopting symbols of patriotism it shunned after World War II, causing concern in neighboring countries invaded by imperial Tokyo.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has infuriated China and South Korea by visiting a shrine to the war dead, has backed legislation that would promote "patriotism" in schools for the first time since World War II.
According to the court verdict, Fujita shouted at parents of graduating high school students: "Today we have an extraordinary ceremony and teachers will be punished if they don't stand and sing the national anthem. Please stay seated on your chairs when singing."
When senior colleagues tried to stop him, Fujita told them, "Don't touch me. Why are you trying to push me out?"
Emperor Akihito, the late wartime emperor's son who is forbidden from meddling in politics, has made unusually open comments recently saying that people should not be forced to respect the anthem and flag.
URGENT CALL: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency pleaded to gain access to the plant, saying ‘every principle of nuclear safety has been violated The UN’s nuclear chief on Tuesday warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control,” and issued an urgent plea to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and avoid a nuclear accident. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi said in an interview that the situation is getting more perilous every day at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, which Russian troops seized in early March, soon after their Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. “Every principle of nuclear safety has been
On a beach in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen, just a few kilometers from Taiwan’s Kinmen, life is carefree, despite some of the worst cross-strait tensions in decades. Ignoring warnings from Beijing, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday — the highest-ranking elected US official to visit the nation in 25 years — sparking a diplomatic firestorm. China yesterday launched some of its largest-ever military drills — exercises set to disrupt one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. However, on Xiamen’s palm-fringed beach, there was little concern. “A war? No, I don’t care,” a young IT worker surnamed
According to Forrest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re going to get.” Now, an Indian remake of the movie has been hit by boycott calls over years-old comments by its Muslim star, Aamir Khan. It is the latest example of how Bollywood actors, particularly minority Muslims such as Khan, are feeling increased pressure under Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Modi. Laal Singh Chaddha, an Indian spin on the 1994 Hollywood hit with Tom Hanks, is expected to be one of India’s biggest films of the year. This is due in large part to its
ACROPORA REVIVAL: A marine science official said that the results of recent studies showed that the reef can still recover in periods that are free of intense disturbances Parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef now have the highest levels of coral cover in decades, an Australian government report said yesterday. Portions of the UNESCO heritage site showed a marked increase in coral cover in the past year, reaching levels not seen in 36 years of monitoring, the Australian Institute of Marine Science said. Scientists surveying 87 sites said that northern and central parts of the reef had bounced back from damage more quickly than some had expected, thanks mainly to fast-growing Acropora — a branching coral that supports thousands of marine species. “These latest results demonstrate the reef can still recover