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Japan city launches standardized school uniforms; students free to choose skirt, pants

Standardized uniforms for Susono municipal junior high schools are seen in this photo provided by the city. They include polo shirts for the summer and jackets for the winter, with a student's choice between skirts, pants, ribbon ties and regular ties.

SUSONO, Shizuoka -- Students starting at the five junior high schools in this central Japan city in spring 2023 will all be wearing the same basic uniform, the municipal government has announced.

    New junior high school students in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, will have uniform jackets for the winter and navy blue polo shirts for the summer, with each student, regardless of gender, allowed to choose between pants and skirts, and ribbon ties and regular ties to go with the jackets and shirts.

    The five schools' current uniforms include stand-up collar jackets for boys and sailor-style tops and skirts for girls. However, some issues have been pointed out, including that they are not made to deal with global warming, price differences in uniforms between schools, gendered clothes being inconsistent with today's ideals of diversity, and the difficulty reusing the uniforms due to their lack of versatility.

    The municipal government set up a committee in fiscal 2021 to study the uniform problems. Since the new uniforms get rid of gender distinctions, they can be reused. Meanwhile, the schools will allow new students to wear the current uniforms handed down from their older graduate siblings.

    Susono is the first municipality in Shizuoka Prefecture to standardize all its junior high school uniforms. Elsewhere in the prefecture, the city of Kakegawa is working toward introducing standardized uniforms at the city's nine junior highs for new students entering in spring 2024.

    Susono Municipal Government school education division chief Kiyoshi Watanabe said, "We've made changes (to school uniforms) to correspond with the times and shifts in the society."

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Ishikawa, Numazu Local Bureau)

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