Monday, April 9, 2007

I went to Minamiosawa Gakuen School in the morning. I learned last night that the School's entrance ceremony was going to be held today, so I wrote a letter addressed to the parents. The letter contained my message of congratulations and my self-introduction. I handed out the letter to the parents in front of the school gates while greeting the students. Even though they had never met me before, many students greeted me back.

A little after I arrived in front of the school gates, the School principal approached me, accompanied by three other men (two vice-principals and a person from the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education).

Principal: "Since it is a special day for the students and their families, please refrain from handing out your leaflets here."
Myself: "On what authority are you advising me that, please?"
Principal: "You are a public servant in the field of education. Am I right?"
Myself: "Are you giving me an administrative order? To someone on suspension?"
Principal: "You are a teaching staff at Minamiosawa Gakuen School. Am I right?" "I ask you for your cooperation."

Leaving me with just these words, he started back to the school building without showing any interest in listening to my response. The other three men, without uttering a single word, followed him in. My watch showed 7:42am.

After a while, the two vice principals came out to the school gates. When I asked them what they were here for, they answered they "always greet the students like this."

I headed for Tachikawa Daini Junior High School in the afternoon. By the time I arrived, the School's entrance ceremony was over and the last group of students and their families were starting home. I recognized some of the students and we exchanged greetings.

"Hello. It's been a long time since I last saw you," responded one student with a smile. Another student said: "I haven't seen you for a long time. Do you remember me? Are you involved in the "Kimigayo" issues again?" (My response: "Right. People may think it doesn't make sense, but I never give in however they may threaten me.) "Can you manage to make a living?" (My response: "Somehow I can.") Some students looked at me with a puzzled look, "Why are you here?"

I offered to take pictures for the incoming students and their families.

After the Junior High School students left, quite a few graduated students, who are now high school students, came along dressed in their new school uniforms. It was so nice to see them again.

Ms. A., who is now a student at a private high school, told me: "At my high school, no teachers stood up at the time of singing "Kimigayo. Even the principal didn't." Ms. B., who is now a student at a public high school said: "I didn't sing 'Kimigayo' at the entrance ceremony. I didn't want to sing it when I didn't know why we would sing it." She continued: "I don't know why other students didn't sing 'Kimigayo,' either, but, as far as I could tell, there weren't many students who were singing it. At the time of giving speeches of congratulations, a person from the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education angrily told us to sing our national anthem properly." Ms. B was indignant at this person's remarks.

I even had a chance to see those who are now in the second year of high school. To my delight, there were some graduated students who juggled their schedule to make time to come and see me. Ms. C. was in rage with the fact that Ishihara had been elected to be the Governor of Tokyo for the third time. Ms. D. ran up to me and exclaimed, "Thank Goodness you are still here!"

Many of the graduated students told me they had read the newspaper article about my refusal to stand up and the consequent punishment. We hadn't spoken for about nine months, and how much these young people have grown and matured truly boggles me. There were many moments when I had my breath taken away and was moved deeply.

Ms. E., who is a graduate from Ishikawa Junior High School, and two other students came to see me. They gave me a boost of energy.