Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Japan update: Kimigayo lawsuits fail once again

The Tokyo District Court rejected an attempt by Tokyo schoolteachers to nullify the punishments they received for refusing to participate in ceremonies involving the national anthem. This is consistent with the earlier Sup Court decisions we noted here as well a more recent decision by the Supreme Court in July that rejected similar appeals from Tokyo and Kitakyushu. The analytic issue this raises is what the plaintiffs hope to gain through what is apparently futile litigation. And the answer clearly lies in the realm of the symbolic. Even a losing lawsuit helps draw attention to the issue, and also may provide some moral closure to the teachers who seek to exercise their rights of freedom of conscience. Still, it would be interesting to know of systematic research into the phenomenon of lawsuits certain to lose, in Japan and elsewhere.


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