University of the Ryukyus criticizes government’s request to raise flag and sing anthem
June 25, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 24 at a regular media meeting, President Hajime Oshiro of the University of Ryukyus criticized the central government’s requests to display the national flag and have participants sing the anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies. On June 16, Hirofumi Shimomura, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, requested presidents of public universities display the national flag and have participants sing the national anthem at university ceremonies. Oshiro claimed; “As the state encourages universities to nurture global human resources, such a request for flag raising and anthem singing is inappropriately nationalistic.” If the discussion about the national flag and anthem is extended to the wider university staff, this could create division and confusion. Oshiro suggested shelving the issue.
Regarding the request from the Minister, Oshiro said, “I wonder what international students from Asia would think of this. Raising the flag and singing the anthem should not be forced.”
The University of the Ryukyus was established in 1950 under the order of the U.S. military administration. Later, it was transferred under the jurisdiction of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands, and the University became a national university upon Okinawa’s reversion to the Japanese administration. According to the university, the university has not officially raised the national flag or sung the anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies since 1981.
About 260 to 300 international students study at the university every year. International students’ home countries are mostly in Asia, including China, which has the highest number of enrolments, Korea, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
President Oshiro stated his opinion saying; “If the university raises the national flag, I would like to raise all flags of all countries where international students are from. That would be more meaningful when we encourage global education.” Within the Diet, there are other opinions, including the claim that public universities should respond to the government’s request because they use tax. Oshiro noted, “Giving back to communities is the contribution that universities can offer. I do not think raising the flag is the way to give back for the tax input.”
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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