Following student demand, controversial haircut and underwear standards will be removed at Tokyo metropolitan government-run high schools.
According to the Mainichi Shimbun, which cites government sources, nearly 200 public high schools and other educational institutions would abolish five requirements beginning in April, including one mandating pupils to have black hair.
According to the publication, laws governing the color of students’ underwear will be scrapped, as will a prohibition on the “two block” hairdo, which is short on the back and sides but longer on top.
The decision comes after a study of 240 schools in the city last year revealed that 216 still followed laws that a growing number of people in education – including students – believe are outmoded.
However, some of the policies will remain in place in some institutions. While some schools will eliminate the need that kids present documentation that their hair is naturally curly or a color other than black, others will maintain the rule, apparently due to student and parent requests.
According to the Mainichi, Yuto Kitamura, a member of the Tokyo metropolitan board of education, said the decision to repeal the most heinous restrictions was a “major step forward.”
Kaori Yamaguchi, another member, hailed the action but complained that it had taken too long to answer students’ concerns.
“Japanese people have been taught to believe that it is a virtue to simply abide by the rules,” she said. “I hope this will be an opportunity for people to discuss what we should do to create a society where rules are observed in a way that’s acceptable to everyone.”
The dispute over tight dress regulations erupted a few years ago when an 18-year-old high school girl in Osaka sued the city’s education officials after her school informed her she had to color her naturally brown hair black or risk expulsion.
Her argument that she was compelled to colour her hair was dismissed by the Osaka district court last year, but the court found the removal of her desk and name from the roster after she ceased attending courses to be unfair. The board of education was ordered to give her compensation of £330,000 [$2,834.04].
Hairstyles, underwear color, and dating laws were removed in all public high schools in Mie, a prefecture in western Japan, last year, with local officials admitting that the standards were “relics” from another era.
Some schools required pupils to wear beige, mocha, or other non-visible undershirts below their uniforms, while only “monotone white, grey, navy blue, or black” underwear was permitted.
Some students have been successful in their campaigns to allow females to wear slacks to school, while others have advocated for the easing of cosmetics and hair product prohibitions.