Rules at all public high schools in west Japan’s Mie Prefecture about subjects including hairstyles, dating, and underwear color were all abolished during the current academic year, the Japan Info learned from the Mie Prefectural Board of Education on June 15.

Rules seen to go too far are dubbed “black school rules,” and with more attention being paid to them as a societal problem, it appears schools were forced to rethink them. The education board’s student guidance section explained, “There are school rules that remain like ‘past relics’ out of step with the times. We will seek further changes in the future.”

According to the education board and others, among the 54 full-time public high schools in the prefecture, there were 24 in the 2019 school year banning undercut haircuts that leave the sides short and top long. All of them had abolished the rules by spring 2021. The primary reason given in forbidding the haircuts was that pupils must “be like high school students, and must not use elaborate techniques.”

Eighteen schools also cited reasons like “students should be pure, cheerful and upright” to justify prohibiting dating among students, but the rules were abolished from spring this year. In academic 2019, 17 schools also required students to file a document certifying their natural hair’s properties and color, but this practice had also been phased out by spring 2021. Additionally, two schools have abolished their respective clothing rules that underwear and shirts under school uniforms should be “flesh-colored, beige, mocha or colors that are less visible under uniforms,” and, “monotone white, grey, navy blue, or black.” If patterns could be seen below a uniform’s surface, students were reportedly warned.

From academic 2020, the prefectural education board encouraged principals’ associations and individual schools to review school rules at meetings attended by the guidance counseling staff. Based on the reality of students’ school life and the thoughts of guardians, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology sent out notifications dated June 8 to education boards across the country urging them to review school rules.

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