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2022 Rewind: Japan's strict school rules restrict hair, underwear colors and dating

The year 2022 saw a score of news articles on how Japanese schools implement "black" rules, or unreasonably strict restrictions on the color of students' hair or underwear, dating, and even friendly chats during lunch. But we have also noticed a shift, in which such rules are lifted. Check out these 10 articles, and find out what is going on in the school system.

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    A high school student whose hair is brown due to years of swimming is seen on May 24, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenji Tatsumi)

    <<Brunette in Japan claims high school teacher yanked locks while scolding her over hair color>>

    KOBE -- A 16-year-old high school student has claimed that a teacher yanked her hair while reprimanding her over her brown locks, sources close to the matter have told the Mainichi Shimbun. Full story.

    The plaintiff's parents are seen during a news conference in the city of Kumamoto's Chuo Ward after the Kumamoto District Court ruling on May 30, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuki Kurisu)

    <<Japanese court dismisses man's claim he left school due to head-shaving 'tradition'>>

    KUMAMOTO -- A district court here on May 30 dismissed a damages suit against the Kumamoto Prefectural Government, in which a 20-year-old plaintiff claimed he quit high school after he was forced to shave his head for a "school club tradition" and subsequently developed depression. Full story.

    This file photo shows a building that houses the Tokyo District and High courts in the capital's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

    <<Ex-high schooler told to drop out for dating classmate wins damages in Tokyo lawsuit>>

    TOKYO -- A court ruled on Nov. 30 that a private high school here broke the law when it advised a female student to drop out for breaking a school rule against dating, and ordered the school operator to pay the woman about 970,000 yen (approx. $7,000) in compensation. Full story.

    A sheet for a petition calling for the Nagaokakyo Municipal Government to allow students to keep their clothes on for school checkups is seen in Kyoto's Kamigyo Ward on Nov. 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Ryo Chatani)

    <<Don't make us strip: Kids, parents raise concerns over half-naked school checkups in Japan>>

    KYOTO -- Students and parents in Japan are voicing serious concerns over the former being instructed to strip to the waist for elementary and junior high school health checkups, saying it can be an embarrassing or even traumatic experience for some children. Full story.

    Members of the Chiba Bar Association's children's rights committee present the results of their school rules survey in the city of Chiba's Chuo Ward on Sept. 1, 2022. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Naganuma)

    <<65% of municipalities in Japan prefecture have 'white underwear' school rules: survey>>

    CHIBA -- Some 65% of municipalities in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, have public junior high schools with rules on underwear color, a survey on controversial school rules has revealed. Full story.

    Footmark Corp.'s "Shine Guard" long-sleeved swimsuit is seen in Tokyo's Sumida Ward on July 7, 2022. (Mainichi/Maki Nakajima)

    <<Japan school rules for rash guard usage in swimming lessons leave parents perplexed>>

    TOKYO -- While swimming classes have been resumed at many Japanese schools for the first time in three years, parents have been confused over some schools' rules regarding the usage of rash guards, which require them to submit papers or talk with the principal to gain permission. Full story.

    Students are seen eating lunch in silence at Kego Elementary School in the city of Fukuoka on June 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

    <<Japan education ministry gives OK for students to talk while eating lunch at schools>>

    Japan's education ministry released a notification on Nov. 29 confirming that students are allowed to talk with each other during lunch time if schools take appropriate COVID-19 countermeasures. Full story.

    (Getty Images)

    <<Public high school in west Japan to introduce culottes as uniform option>>

    SHISO, Hyogo -- A high school in this western Japan city will introduce split-skirt culottes as a uniform option from the 2023 academic year beginning in April. Full story.

    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)

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

    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. Full story.

    (Getty Images)

    <<Japan school principal shares behind-the-scenes look at radical 'no rules' policy>>

    TOKYO -- As unreasonably strict school rules continue to cause controversy in Japan, a junior high school in Tokyo has done away with rules altogether. The Mainichi Shimbun interviewed Yokohama Soei Junior & High School Principal Yuichi Kudo, who also advanced a no-homework, no-exam policy at Kojimachi Junior High School, to ask him about how rules came to be abolished during his time as principal at Kojimachi. Full story.

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