A high-school headteacher has been found hanged after the local education board ordered his pupils to sing Japan's national anthem at the Hiroshima school's graduation ceremony.
Teachers have long been opposed to the use of both the flag and the national anthem, seen as symbols of Japan's aggressive military past.
According to press reports, Toshihiro Ishikawa was torn between the board's demand and his teachers' opposition. The graduation ceremony went ahead without the national anthem the day after Mr shikawa's death.
The suicide sparked a debate in the national assembly and the prime minister called for a Bill to be passed to recognise the flag and anthem as national symbols.
Principals of 12 high schools are considering resigning over the order to use these "symbols" at this year's graduations.