Pressured to review outdated prohibitions, an entire prefecture says goodbye to “relics of the past”.

Controversial school regulations have been under the spotlight in Japan recently, with an overwhelming number of people calling for reviews to be made after it was revealed that students were being forced to dye their hair and even show their underwear to teachers.

These rules, which have been in place at a wide number of schools across the country for decades, ultimately aim to uphold uniformity amongst students. However, when students with naturally brown hair are forced to dye their hair black to align with a school’s no-dyed hair colour policy, and student handbooks advise that pupils’ underwear must be white or beige for “hygiene reasons”, basic human rights start becoming a legitimate concern.

▼ If you were a student born with this hair colour, chances are you’d be accused of dyeing it, and would have to dye it black.

Because of these concerns, schools and prefectural boards of education are now under pressure to review outdated regulations, dubbed “black school rules” for their negative nature. Thankfully, this pressure is slowly leading to change, with Saga Prefecture recently announcing it would do away with underwear and hair checks, and now Western Japan’s Mie Prefecture has revealed it’s followed suit.

According to Mie’s prefectural board of education, as of this spring all public high schools in the prefecture have abolished school rules regarding hairstyles, the colour of underwear, and also dating. The changes came into effect after a 2019 survey found that out of 54 public high schools in the prefecture, 24 had provisions banning the “two-block” undercut hairstyle (short back and sides), 17 required students to submit a form stipulating their hair colour and quality (to check for dyed hair), and 18 schools prohibited dating amongst students.

In addition, two schools required that clothing underneath uniforms should be light-coloured to make them less visible.

▼  No more checking the colour of my underwear!

All these rules have now been abolished, with a representative from the board’s Student Guidance Division describing the regulations as relics of the past, and unsuitable for current times.

The prefectural education board played an instrumental role in bringing about the changes, asking schools and principals’ associations to review school regulations at meetings with guidance counselling staff in attendance.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is now encouraging other education boards to ask schools to review their policies, sending out notifications to boards around the country earlier this month. These moves look set to bring about wide-sweeping change throughout the education system to bring it up to speed with the changing times, and put to rest concerns expressed by pupils, parents, teachers and members of society as a whole.

Because a step forward for students’ rights is a step forward for individual rights, which helps to create a happier, healthier, safer path for everyone, especially the adults of tomorrow.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Livedoor News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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