Lowering the Flag: Democracy, authority and rights at Tokorozawa high school

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Abstract

In April 1998, the students ofTokorozawa High School in Saitama drew intensive media attention when they boycotted the school entrance ceremony and organized an alternative eventThe dispute was sparked by the principal's insistence that the de facto national flag (Hinomoru) and anthem (Kimigayo) should be used at the ceremony, following orders from the Ministry of Education.-The students objected that the controversial symbols, with their wartime associations, should not be imposed without their consentThe ensuing debate about authority and freedom in schools revealed different understandings of democracy in Japan.The debate also saw the government and the Right abandon the individuality-centred rhetoric of educational reform prevalent since the late 1980s, in favour of an emphasis on discipline and obedience in schools. The Tokorozawa dispute highlights the politically double-edged nature of educational reform, and shows that despite the weakening of teachers' unions, conflict over education in Japan continues in new forms.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-93
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001