Controversial rules on hairstyles and underwear are to be scrapped at high schools run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, after pressure from students.
Nearly 200 public high schools and other educational institutions will drop five regulations, including one requiring students to have black hair, from April, the Mainichi Shimbun said, citing official sources.
The newspaper said rules designating the color of students’ underwear and a ban on “two-block” hairstyles – short in the back and sides and longer on top – will also be dropped.
The move comes after a survey of 240 schools in the capital last year found that 216 had retained regulations that a growing number of people at school – including children themselves – consider outdated.
However, some rules will remain in some schools. While some will abolish the requirement for students to prove that their hair is naturally curly or of a color other than black, some will maintain the regulation, apparently at the request of students and parents.
Yuto Kitamura, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, said the decision to remove the most egregious regulations was a “big step forward”, according to the Mainichi.
Another member, Kaori Yamaguchi, welcomed the move but said it took too long to address student grievances.
“The Japanese have been taught to believe that it’s a virtue to just play by the rules,” she said. “I hope this will be an opportunity for people to discuss what we should be doing to create a society where the rules are followed in a way that is acceptable to all.”
The debate over strict dress codes escalated several years ago after a high school student, then 18, sued education authorities in Osaka after her school told her to dye her naturally brown hair in black or face exclusion.
Last year, the Osaka District Court rejected her claim that she was forced to dye her hair, but said the removal of her office and name from the list after she stopped to attend classes was unreasonable. He ordered the school board to pay him ¥330,000 [£2,152] in compensation.
Last year, all public high schools in Mie, a western Japanese prefecture, scrapped rules governing hairstyles, underwear color and dating, with local officials admitting the requirements were ‘relics of a different age.
Some schools had told students they had to wear tan, mocha, or other colors that were not easily visible under their uniforms, while only “monotone white, gray, blue navy or black” were permitted.
Some students have successfully campaigned for girls to be allowed to wear pants to school, while others have called for bans on makeup and hair products to be lifted.