Erziehung und Religionsfreiheit: Hinomaru und Kimigayo

Hi-no-Maru und Kimi-ga-Yo
die nationale Flagge und die Nationalhymne

Am 9.8.1999 hat das japanische Parlament sowohl die Nationalflagge als auch die Nationahymne legalisiert: "Law concerning the National Flag and National Anthem".

In einer Stellungnahme vom 27.5.2004 verurteilt die Generalversammlung des NCCJ den Mißbrauch der Nationalhymne (Kimigayo) und der Nationalflagge (Hinomaru). In nicht wenigen Fällen wurden im April d. J. Lehrer dafür bestraft, dass sie sich weigerten, die Nationalhymne zu singen oder mit dem Klavier zu begleiten, und deren Schüler sich weigerten, sich zum Singen der Hymne zu erheben.

Position Statement

We Oppose the Compulsory Use of Hinomaru (Japanese national flag) and Kimigayo (Japanese national anthem).

"As for us, our hope is that God will put us right with him; and this is what we wait for by the power of God's spirit working through our faith." (GALATIANS 5:5)

At the Executive General Committee meeting of the 35th General Assembly on 27th of May 2004, the National Christian Council in Japan took the position to oppose the compulsory use of the Hinomaru and the Kimigayo and called upon its member churches and organizations to take up this challenge together.


After the national anthem and flag law was put forth in August 1999, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education issued protocols for the Hinomaru and the Kimigayo at public school ceremonies in October 2003. In April 2004, it punished teachers who refused to sing and play the piano for the Kimigayo at the graduation ceremony of public schools in Tokyo. It even punished teachers whose students did not stand up to sing the Kimigayo.

These acts of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government contradicts the word of late-Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi who clarified that the national anthem and flag law will not be carried out by force. They are violating freedom of thought and freedom of conscience (Article 19) and the freedom of religion (Article 20) as guaranteed in the Constitution. They are also violating the Article 14 - freedom of thought, conscience and religion - of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989 and ratified by Japan in 1994. In an environment like this, we cannot expect that there will be respect for uniqueness of each child at school, which is essential for the growth of children.
Punishment of teachers is oppressive and affects the children who are developing their own ideas about the anthem and flag.

Japan has become a military superpower. The Japanese government has continuously damaged the Constitution which embraces the aspiration for peace. It has dispatched troops to Iraq, he the Prime Minister goes to worship at the Yasukuni shrine as one of his public functions, and the Hinomaru and the Kimigayo are made compulsory at public schools. We, Japanese Christians, as well as Japanese citizens of other faiths working for peace, have a great anxiety over this situation. We note that, among those who were punished for refusing the Hinomaru and the Kimigayo, are teachers who struggle based on his/her Christian faith. We also note that there are children who are struggling to keep their faith despite huge pressures. We Christians recognize the challenges they are facing as our own.


The Hinomaru and the Kimigayo were symbols of the imperial militarism, which committed aggressive wars, based on the State Shinto. We Japanese invaded neighboring countries and killed innocent citizens while singing the Kimigayo anthem under the Hinomaru flag. We Japanese Christians were forced to acknowledge the emperor above God, and we accepted to worship the emperor at the Shinto shrines. By doing so, we took part in oppressing the peoples of Korea and other Asian and Pacific countries. We will never forget this history. We will keep the fact deep in our heart that we could not keep our faith in Christ who had been crucified on the cross, the only God, and that it resulted in the atrocious killing of our neighbors.

After the World War II, many member churches and organizations of NCC-J have repented and confessed this sin and asked for forgiveness from God and our neighbors. We have been seeking to live the gospel of reconciliation with sisters and brothers of Asian countries. To keep silent now about the acts of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is, for us, none other than dishonoring our confessions. We will not repeat committing the same sin to be a witness of the truth of the gospel of reconciliation.


We have been listening to minorities in Japan and Asian countries. We came to believe that we, Christians in Japan, can never sing the Kimigayo nor can hold the Hinomaru in order to realize a society where people of different cultures and ethnicity can live together. We confessed before God that we will never repeat what we did towards people of Okinawa and Asian countries during the colonization and aggressive wars. We believe solely in God who sacrificed life for every human being and who rules history. We will never again turn our face from God for fear of pressure or criticisms.


The NCC-J had been advocating against the legislation of the national anthem and flag, which is against the principles of pacifism, democracy and fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

Member churches and organizations of NCC-J are praying and acting together for the abolition of the compulsory use of the Hinomaru and the Kimigayo in solidarity with the punished teachers. We are committed to supporting teachers and students who are suffering from the coercion.

NCC-J, which is composed of 33 churches and organizations, and the Christian Network for Peace, and includes the Catholic Church in Japan, Reformed Church in Japan, Japan Evangelical Association, and The Church of Christ In Japan, concluded "We denounce war as Christians" in the advent of 2003. Upon the recognition that the Hinomaru and the Kimigayo is part of the process of miniaturization, we call for resistance to coercion and opposition to the military cooperation of Japanese government in Iraq.

NCC-J is committed to stand firmly on the biblical gospel principles of reconciliation under the guidance of God, the only Lord of Christians, in solidarity with brothers and sisters of churches in Asia. We, Christians in Japan, are committed to work together to bring about the New Times based on the love and peace as Jesus showed.

"Come, our Creator, the Holy Spirit"

Ms. Reiko Suzuki

Rev. Toshimasa Yamamoto
General Secretary

National Christian Council in Japan


Hinomaru - Kimigayo

Die Hinomaru-Fahne war bis zur Niederlage von 1945 eines der hervorragenden Symbole seiner militärischen Herrschaft in vielen Ländern Asiens. Nach dem Krieg war dieses negative Bild der japanischen Fahne der Grund, weshalb die Hinomaru-Fahne nicht die Nationalfahne Japans wurde. Ebenso ging es mit der inoffiziellen Nationalhymne Kimigayo, die den Tenno verherrlicht, die nach dem Krieg ebenfalls nicht per Gesetz zur Nationalhymne erklärt wurde. Trotz des umstrittenen Charakters wurden beide im Jahre 1999 offiziell als Nationalfahne bzw. Nationalhymne institutionalisiert. IIJIMA Makoto, ein Gymnasiallehrer in Tōkyō, beschreibt für uns die Folgen dieser politischen Entscheidung für die staatlichen Schulen.



Wichtige Dokumente zu "Brennpunkte in Kirche und Theologie Japans" sind im gleichnamigen Buch zu finden:
- Tennoismus
- Diskriminierung (Buraku)
- Krieg und Frieden
- Yasukuni-Schrein
(hg. von TERAZONO Yoshiki & Heyo E. Hamer, Neukirchener Verlag 1988
ISBN 3-7887-1224-4)