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Japan high court rules schools can force teachers to play national anthem

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Japan [official website; Japan JURIST news archive] ruled Tuesday that schools can order teachers to play the country's national anthem [fact sheet]. In 1999, a Japanese music teacher refused to play the anthem at a school ceremony. She filed a lawsuit after the school tried to force her to play the anthem, arguing that protections for freedom of thought and conscience in Japan's constitution [text] prevent the school from doing so. A lower court rejected the lawsuit [JURIST report] in 2004 and that ruling was upheld by the country's high court Tuesday.

Some critics contend the anthem, "Kimigayo" or "His Majesty's Reign," which praises the emperor, applauds Japan's World War II militarism. In December 2006, Japan's upper house of parliament passed a bill [JURIST report] mandating that Japanese classrooms "cultivate an attitude that respects tradition and culture, that loves the nation and home country." AFP has more.

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