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Rules on underwear color, black hair to be abolished at Tokyo public high schools in 2022

This March 12, 2021 photo shows papers that some Tokyo metropolitan high schools require students to submit to prove that their hair is naturally brown or curly. (Mainichi/Hitomi Saikawa)

TOKYO -- Controversial school rules including on underwear color and dyeing hair black will be abolished from public high schools and other educational institutions run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government during the 2022 academic year, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education confirmed the move at a March 10 regular meeting. Five types of rules will be scrapped including designating students' underwear color and banning the undercut hairstyle known as a "two-block."

    The move comes after students and schools discussed the issue and decided to review the rules at 196 educational courses. Similar moves to question unreasonable in-school regulations are spreading nationwide. From April 2022, metropolitan government-run schools will post their rules on their websites.

    The metropolitan board of education presented six types of school rules whose necessity is in question, including the "two block" hairstyle ban. In April 2021, the education board investigated whether school rules consistent with the category existed at a total of 240 school courses in the capital, including all of the 196 metropolitan high schools and other schools' full-time and part-time courses. It emerged that questionable school rules were in place at 216 educational courses.

    Schools were then asked by the metropolitan education board to review whether the regulations were necessary. At each school, student council members and teachers exchanged opinions and interviewed parents and guardians. As a result, it was decided by December 2021 that school rules deemed unnecessary would be abolished in 196 educational courses from the 2022 academic year. Five of the six school rule types will be eliminated from all educational courses.

    Rules asking students with naturally curly or non-black hair to voluntarily submit proof of their natural hair will be abolished in 35 courses, but remain in 20 others. Officials explained that students and parents requested the proof system's retention.

    At the education board's regular meeting on March 10 regular meeting, a number of members praised the questionable school rules inspection. Among them, Yuto Kitamura stated, "It is essential to respect an environment where students think proactively and make their own decisions. I find the move to be a major step forward."

    Another member, Kaori Yamaguchi, commented, "Although a wonderful effort, it is regrettable it took so long." She added, "Japanese people have been educated to believe that it is a virtue to simply abide by the rules. 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 manner convincing to everyone."

    (Japanese original by Asako Takeuchi, Tokyo City News Department)

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