For once, just this once, a Japanese judge gets it sort of right.
Japanese Court Gives Teachers Rare Win
The Associated Press
By CHISAKI WATANABE -TOKYO - Thursday, September 21, 2006; 11:05 AM - A court ruled Thursday that an order forcing Tokyo teachers to stand before Japan's flag and sing an anthem to the emperor violated the constitution, a rare victory for the country's waning pacifist movement, plaintiffs' lawyers said.
The decision bolstered opponents of Japan's growing emphasis on patriotism.
I say "sort of right" because Tokyo District Court Judge Namba Kōichi did not reaffirm an absolute right to freedom of thought and conscience. The plaintiffs' arguments were accepted because the court deemed their objections serious--that the flag and the anthem were used to promote militarism and worship of the imperial house in the pre-1945 era and thus cannot be seen even now in a neutral or unbiased light.
I really do not like that "even now" (genzai de mo), as it contains the seed of a future "Well, we are like so over that now!" dismissal of the complaint.
I would also have preferred that the judge affirm a right to sit down and remain silent, even if one's reasons for doing are ridiculous ("The flag looks like an umeboshi in the middle of a rectangular plate of white rice and I hate umeboshi!")
This struggle is not over, of course. Ishihara Shintarō has prove his masculinity on this one, so the Tokyo Metropolitan District will waste yet more tax resources on an appeal.
As the article notes, this decision will drive those who have been seeking revisions of the constitution and Basic Education Law into hysterical raving madness.
Denunciations of the "excesses" of "activist judges", anyone?