Friday, April 13, 2007

Arrived at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office at 8AM. Handed out a leaflet to those who worked there, and, using a microphone, appealed to them for support of our cause. We're in the second year now since we started this campaign at the time I was suspended last year. There were nine of us including Ms Kawarai and myself. It is a little lonely with this group which is smaller than usual, but I am grateful that there are people who support us, who speak to us, and even who extend their hands for a handshake.
At Tokyo District Court from 10 AM, there was a scheduling conference on Tama Junior High School Incident (translator's note: for which Nezu has sued the Tokyo Government for a repeal of the pay cut in March, 2002.)
I headed for Kyoto in the afternoon. The purpose of the visit was to speak at the learning session to welcome the first year students at the university. After viewing a part of the movie "Against Coercion," I gave a speech, which continued to a question-and-answer period. At the end of the Q&A period, a new student with an angelic face spoke: "I was a student at Chofu Junior High School where you taught. You taught me Home Economics." He said his name. I studied his face. His face from three years earlier came back to me. Inadvertently, I uttered a squeal. It was surreal. He said he had happened to see the flier and came.
He said that when his classmates from school got together, my name always came up, and that I had taught them something very important, though they did not know it then. They said, "She was different from the other teachers. She was just amazing." He recalled my lessons as well. "Taste-testing wieners, dashi-broth, etc. It was surprising to have such lessons." He also added, "I will never forget the lessons with guest(s) who had special needs." As well, he said that he was concerned about me after the report of my suspension.
In order to send a message, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education revised its policy on transfer of teachers to one that would enable a transfer only after a year of appointment as well as a maximum of two-hour-commute one way (translator's note: Nezu claims that Tokyo Board of Education changed these rules so that she would have to change her workplaces often and bear the long commute). Sure enough, I was shipped out of Chofu Junior High School after a year. Yet, I am truly happy if, during that year at Chofu Junior High, my conduct, which was a little different from other teachers, inspired/touched some students even a little. To have taught there has significance. Thank you, students, for this wonderful reunion!

The graduation at Chofu Junior High in 2004 was the first one after the 10.23 Directive. One day just prior to the graduation ceremony, I had shared my thoughts with half of the graduating class who had the Home Economics lesson (it is offered only every other week) as to why I could not stand up during the national anthem. And on the day of the graduation, I remained seated.

A newspaper, in its evening edition, reported my feeling that I needed to "protest coercion" by not standing. The principal raged and yelled at me in front of all the teachers. One of my colleagues calmed him down. I received supporting messages from quite a few parents and students. In 2004, when the directive was issued, there were still many people who were uncomfortable with "coercion." Now, after three years, the situation is poles apart from what it was then. Times have changed.