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Many Osaka prefectural high schools have brown-hair registry: Mainichi poll

A selection of hair dyes is seen at a store in this file photo taken in 2002. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- Sixty-three percent of public high schools in Osaka Prefecture that responded to a Mainichi Shimbun survey about hair color guidelines employ a brown-hair registry system for students with naturally lighter hair.

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted the survey in the wake of the female high school student at Kaifukan High School in Habikino, Osaka Prefecture, who filed a compensation lawsuit against the Osaka Prefectural Government because the school forced her to dye her naturally brown hair black. Out of the 137 full-time high schools questioned, 71 schools, some 52 percent, responded. The other 66 schools declined to answer because they did not want to get wrapped up in lawsuits, among other reasons.

Most of the responding schools prohibit students from dyeing or bleaching their hair, and it seems the registries exist to prevent students with naturally light hair from being mistakenly targeted and reprimanded. On the other hand, in cases where students repeatedly did not follow the guidelines, there were schools that suspended the students. It became clear that for things such as the reputation of the school and effects on college or workforce entrance after graduation, there is a strong push in public schools for students to have "black hair."

Forty-five schools answered that they had a brown hair registry system. One school said that to avoid any instructional problems, they call for their naturally brown-haired students to come forward when they enter the school, and if their parent or guardian confirms the color, they are exempt from punishment. The remaining 24 schools gave reasons like, "We have few students with extreme hair colors," for not employing a registry.

Almost all of the schools, at 69 facilities, stated that they did engage in enforcing hair color and hair style guidelines. Of these, schools prohibiting the dyeing and bleaching of hair (63 facilities) or perms (58) were common, and there were schools that also told students whose hair changed color from the heat of hair irons to promptly return their hair to black. No schools answered that they requested students with naturally brown hair to dye their hair black.

Rules concerning hair appeared in the school guidelines of 67 schools, and two of those schools explicitly refer to color as "limited to black." The punishment for violating rules concerning hair style was suspension from classes at six schools, prohibition from school events at six schools, and suspension from the school at two institutions. Two schools responded that they provide hair style guidance even though it is not written in the school rules.

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