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Japan court orders city gov't to pay $970 to ex-student after teacher cut her hair

This 2020 file photo shows the Kofu District Court in the city of Kofu. (Mainichi/Shota Kaneko)

KOFU -- The Kofu District Court on Nov. 30 ordered the Yamanashi Municipal Government to pay 110,000 yen (about $970) to a former student who claimed that a teacher at a municipal junior high school cut her hair and caused her emotional distress.

    The 19-year-old former student had sought about 7.7 million yen ($67,900) in damages from the city government. Presiding Judge Junko Suzuki ruled that the teacher "failed to confirm with the student's guardians that she'd be cutting her hair. The method and response can't be deemed appropriate."

    According to the ruling, on June 7, 2016, the then second-year junior high school student had her hair cut by her mother, but the ends of her hair were curled up. The next day at school, she told the female teacher that her mother had told her to have the teacher do her hair. The teacher then cut her hair in the hallway using craft scissors, but did not confirm it with her guardians. Afterwards, the former student was told by her classmates that her hairstyle was "disgusting," and when she returned home, she complained to her mother that she wanted to cry. She stopped going to class from the following day.

    Suzuki acknowledged that the former student had given the teacher consent, but pointed out that cutting her hair in the hallway was "inappropriate because it could damage her self-esteem." Considering that hair is a major concern for junior high school girls, and that students are generally in a position where they cannot go against their teachers, the judge said, "It was necessary to check with the guardians beforehand."

    (Japanese original by Ayano Tanaka, Kofu Bureau)

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