Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Went to Minami Osawa Gakuen School. 40 minutes after leaving home, I found myself riding on the way to Tsurukawa School. A wry smile. Since I took a long way around, I arrived at the school at 7:50, but still earlier than the Principal.

The Principal stopped at me with a fake smile. "Good morning," I said. "Good morning," he replied. No other words. I asked him,"Do you have anything to say to me today? He said,"If possible..." I asked him, "you would like me to be here?” He replied, "No, if possible I would not like you to be here." I said, "I have asked you over and over to show me the law that prohibits me from being here." He just made a light bow and went through the gate, without answering my question.

I thought this kind of 'instruction' or what I would call 'control' was his duty as a principal, but I wondered where his pride was. I wanted him to give some thought to the fact that such behaviour of 'duty' separated from his true thought would corrupt the society.

It was very hot today even in the morning. It was not so uncomfortable though, due to the low humidity, but the weather report had said the temperature would rise to the average of the end of July. Some students were sweaty, wearing their jackets. "It is very hot. Are you OK?", one of the students in the high school division talked to me. He kindly said, "Would you like to come and have something to drink as it is so hot?"

We went to the coffee shop a little before noon, since I thought it was better to go there before the high school division's practical training finished. We ordered iced coffee and rested for a while. My friends I and J who had visited me at the school gate came with me.

I asked the Vice Principal to allow me to enter the school, as I needed something from the teaching materials that I had brought on March 30th, the day I was notified of my transfer.

That request was approved so everything was okay today, but another Vice Principal came to me and said, "You are not allowed to enter the school until September 30. From now on, please do not do this kind of thing. You can use the bathroom only when it is an emergency.” I said, "You know I will not enter here without an approval. Sometimes I need to get access to my private belongings." He said "No, please do not do it." I said, "I cannot say that I won't." Then we separated at the entrance. I wondered how many of these words of the Vice Principals and the Principal had been instructed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education!

Today, K, a graduate from Tachikawa Daini Junior High School, came and talked to me for a long time as there was no club activity after school. He clearly remembered the speech that I once made at the school assembly when I was transferred to the Daini High. "I was very impressed," he said. For the past few years, I had had very few opportunities to speak in front of all the students, except for self-introductions. So it was so moving that this student remembered that one time when I made the speech three years ago! The speech was like this. I showed a ball or something, and asked the students what they saw. Then I asked them what they thought it would be on the side that they could not see. I taught that in this way, things were not always what they seemed like. Seem from the other side, they might look different. In summary, I encouraged the students to try to look at things from different angles and think about them, then use their imagination to the parts that they were not seeing.

That day I went home with great satisfaction.


Friday, May 11, 2007

At 8:00 am, we started to hand out leaflets at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Main Building No.1. In addition to Ms. Kawarai and I, as many as thirteen people kindly showed up.

Among those was Mr. C, who had sent me a passionate letter of support last year. This was his first time joining us in the leaflet distribution. Ms. D was here for her second time. She and I only met last month, but she was quick to join us in this campaign. Mr. E took a day off from his work and participated. Thank you very much to all.

This activity of distributing leaflets and campaigning for our cause week after week would not have been possible without the support of these people who have taken their time to come out here. I really appreciate their support.

After distributing leaflets, we printed out and sent out our newsletters.

The House of Councilors' Special Committee for Research on the Constitution passed a bill to establish procedures for a national referendum to revise the Constitution. Again, the House of Councilors did not fulfill its function. Japan is taking the first step toward a "country that can wage wars" by getting rid of the second clause of Article 9.

After WWII, teachers' unions, which I belong to, made a resolution that we would "never send our students to battlefields again." To what extent are we aware that the current situation can be seen as equivalent to "sending students to battlefields"? To what extent do we recognize that the mind set of coercing and punishing teachers regarding the issue of "Kimigayo" is the same as that of "sending our students to battlefields"?

Since Golden Week holidays, the weather has gotten warmer. It has made it much easier to stand outside and do what I need to do.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Went to Tachikawa Daini Junior High School. This morning I arrived at the school gates earlier than usual, and that made it possible for me to greet almost every student who comes to school through the front gates. Among the third graders whom I had not met in April, some greeted me by saying, "It's been a long time since I last saw you," and some just went past by me with a grin. It was interesting to see a variety of reaction.

Once students had all gone inside the gates, I began my work, sitting on my chair, as usual. After a while, I noticed a car slowing down as it approached me. As it was going past where I was sitting, its window rolled down and a man stuck his head out and called out, "Keep at it!" And then the car sped up to leave. I stood up in response and shouted back, "Thank you very much." I did not quite catch his face, but I figured, from the look of the car and the feel of the voice, it must be the same person who gave me a word of encouragement last year. When someone energizes me like this early in the morning, I feel I can start a day refreshed and recharged.

Two people stopped to look at my sign today. One was a man in his 70s. He told me that his older brother had lost his life as a Kamikaze pilot, and because he had died in the name of "patriotism," this man felt uncomfortable negating "patriotism" altogether, since negating it could amount to dishonoring his brother's death. That was why he thought both "patriotism" and "Kimigayo" ought to be honored. "Having said that," he continued, "the punishment you are enduring does not make sense." The other was a man in his late 60s, and he said, "[The punishment] is too severe. The world is going crazy. I hope you can hold up." He also said, "That you are standing right here is in itself a powerful message." I have been trying to explain my cause by putting my whole self in the front line and to draw people's attention to the alarming direction Tokyo's education is heading in. This man seemed to acknowledge my effort as "a powerful message," and I felt encouraged.

I had three visitors in the morning. Ms. Miyako Masuda, a former junior high school social studies teacher, had launched a law suit against Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education regarding their decision to dismiss her from teaching, and its hearing was scheduled to begin at 1:00pm. I left the school to attend it. It was already 3:30pm by the time I returned to the school gates. I couldn't make it to the time when the students were going home. They had left school early today, since there were only five class hours scheduled for the day. At five o'clock, I began to think about going home when my phone rang.

It was from Mr. A., who was now a senior high school student. His high school is adjacent to Tachikawa Junior High School. We decided to meet at the South Gates of the Junior High School - the Gates were located closest to the high school. There Mr. B. joined us, and three of us enjoyed chatting. Since the South Gates were 100 meters away from the high school gates, the high school students who were heading toward the train station would pass by us. Friends of Mr. A. and Mr. B. called out, "Is that your mom, Mr. A.?" "What are you doing there?"

We kept chatting until past 6:00pm. Six was the time when all the students had to leave the school by, and so all the students who had remained at school came out. They included some of the graduates from Tachikawa Daini Junior High School, and I was able to see them as well. Thank you, Mr. A., for such an enjoyable time. Mr. A. is a graduate from Tachikawa Daini Junior High School. He had read my "going to work under suspension" journal on the Internet and begun to come to see me every now and again.