Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tokyo Metropolitan Government ordered to pay 300,000 yen to retired teacher – Lawsuit over refusal to stand during the playing of “Kimigayo” national anthem

A storm of applause came from the public that filled the court room when MINAMI Toshifumi, the chief justice of the Tokyo High Court, finished reading a key conclusion and its reasons. The decision was made on November 7, 2012 for KAWARAI Junko, a retired special school teacher in response to the Supreme Court’s judgment to repeal her one-month suspension and remand the case to the high court. The chief justice recognized the fault of the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, saying, “The punishment of refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem negatively affects freedom of thought and conscience and is not supposed to be done automatically or uniformly”. He also suggested, “At a special school, personal contact between teachers and pupils or students is indispensable”. And this is what Kawarai especially cherished. The chief justice ordered the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to pay 300,000 yen as compensation for her emotional distress caused by her suspension in addition to the payment of her unpaid wages. This is the first case where damages are awarded in a lawsuit over refusal to stand during the playing of “Kimigayo” national anthem. The court decision that referred to freedom of thought and conscience and the influence to education is remarkable. (SASAKI Yumi)

* Photo: Press conference after the decision


南敏文裁判長が主文・判決理由を読み終わると、満員の傍聴席から期せずして大きな拍手が起きた。今年1月最高裁で1ヶ月の停職処分が取り消され、東京高裁に 差し戻されていた河原井純子さん(写真・東京都立特別支援学校元教諭)の損害賠償請求裁判の判決が117日出た。南裁判長は、「不起立への処分は、思想・良心の自由に影響を与えるもので、機械的、一律的に行うべきではない」として都教委の過失を認めた。また、「養護学校では、
教諭と児童生徒の人格的触れ合いが教育活動には欠かすことができず」、河原井さんは特にこのことを重視していた。停職処分による精神的苦痛は、未払い給与の支払いだけではすまされないとして30万円の賠償を都に命じた。「君が代」裁判で損害賠償が認められたのは初めて。思想・良心の自由、また教育実践への影響に踏み込んだ判決は、 注目すべきだ。(佐々木有美)

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