Tokyo schools to drop controversial dress code rules regulating hair and underwear color

Tokyo dress code rules
  • Tokyo’s Board of Education announced it would scrap its controversial dress code rules, including those dictating hairstyles and underwear color and pattern, for the new academic year beginning April 1.
  • Over 200 schools and educational institutions run by the Tokyo metropolitan government will implement these five changes to its rules.
  • “Japanese people have been taught to believe that it is a virtue to simply abide by the rules,” Kaori Yamaguchi, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, 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 changes came after the Board surveyed 240 schools in the city last year, asking parents and children about their views of the policies.

Tokyo school officials announced they are dropping controversial dress code policies for high school students, including those regulating hairstyles and underwear color and patterns.

Around 200 schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government will implement five changes to the rules at the start of the new academic year beginning on April 1, according to a Mainichi Shimbun report.

The new changes will scrap long-held rules that prevented high school students from changing their hair color or wearing a “two-block,” a hairstyle that is long on top and short at the back and sides.

Tokyo’s metropolitan government will also drop rules dictating underwear color, the “practice of punishing students with a form of house arrest” and “ambiguous language in the guidelines on what is considered ‘typical of high school students.’”

Yuto Kitamura, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, said these changes signal a “major step forward,” according to Mainichi Shimbun. While Kaori Yamaguchi, another member of the board, praised the move, she said it took the government too long to address the issue.

Japanese people have been taught to believe that it is a virtue to simply abide by the rules,” Yamaguchi 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 recent changes came after Tokyo’s Board of Education surveyed 240 schools in the city, asking parents and students about their views of the policies. The result found that the majority of people in education and students believed the 216 regulations were outdated.

Some schools are expected to retain a few of the rules, reportedly at the request of parents and students, including showing proof that a student’s hair is naturally curly or a certain color.

Students in Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, also answered a survey about the similar dress code in their city, stating their complaints that the rules had caused them stress and limited their self-expression.

The issue was first brought to the public’s attention in 2017 after an Osaka student, then 18, filed a lawsuit against the government for forcing her to dye her naturally brown hair black, which irritated her scalp. She won the case in February 2021 and received 330,000 yen (approximately $3,190 at the time) in compensation.

Featured Image via David Monniaux (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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