Sayaka Akimoto recounts similar pressures she faced herself in school.

The case of a former high school student in Osaka made headlines last week, as she is suing the prefecture for the emotional trauma she suffered due to repeated insistence from school staff that she dye her naturally brown hair black. Part of the absurdity of the case comes from the fact that the now 18-year-old girl had been forced to dye her hair black as part of the school’s no-dye policy, and that she was singled out, bullied by school staff, and ultimately told not to come back to school, all because of the natural color of her hair.

The news struck a chord with Filipino-Japanese actress and former AKB48 member Sayaka Akimoto, who spoke out about the issue on her personal Twitter account on October 28, sharing her own experience as a Japanese high school student whose natural hair color is not black:

“When I was in high school, I was also continuously accused of having dyed my hair, even though I hadn’t. It got to the point I couldn’t take it anymore so I dyed my hair black. When I did, my father said, ‘What’s with that hair color?!’ and went to my school saying, ‘My daughter has always had red hair!’ 
At that time I realized that rules are important, but there are many things that are more important.”

Commenters praised Akimoto’s father for standing up to the school as he did, and a number of others with naturally brown hair chimed in with their own experiences – some similarly negative, but also those with understanding and reasonable teachers who were allowed to keep their naturally “different” hair color. Many also voiced their concerns about the absurdity of the Osaka case and for Japan’s educational system in general. As one commenter wrote: “This isn’t just an issue with Osaka- it’s our overall education. Forcing people to dye their hair is an obvious violation of human rights.”

Opening remarks for the trial were heard just this past Friday, October 27, so it will likely be a while before we know the final verdict. Hopefully this case will lead to some changes that will protect students like the 18-year-old prosecutor. It will be interesting to see if other ridiculous school regulations, like those banning ponytails for conjuring lustful feelings and those enforcing what color underwear can be worn, will be brought to court in the future as well.

Source: Twitter/@akimotooo726 via Sanspo
Top image: Pakutaso