84% of education boards in Japan conducted a survey about school regulations amidst the controversy

A school classroom is seen in this unrelated photo. (Getty Images)

TOKYO — An increasing number of local education boards across Japan are reviewing controversial school regulations such as limiting the color of students’ underwear to white, with 84% of boards saying they have conducted fact-finding investigations to double-check regulations, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.

The Mainichi survey targeted a total of 67 education boards in Japan’s 47 prefectures and 20 ordinance-designated cities across the country between November and December in 2022. All boards responded to the survey.

After a movement calling for reviewing so-called “black” school regulations gathered across Japan around 2017, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology issued a notice to prefectures and other education boards in June 2021, asking that administrators take the initiative to revise school rules and regulations are in accordance with the actual situation at school and the local community, on the grounds that there are allegations that some school rules deviate from what is needed and appropriate.

The Mainichi poll was primarily aimed at finding out about movement among education boards after the education ministry’s notification. Asked whether they had conducted a fact-finding survey to review school regulations, 56 boards of education, or 84%, said they had. Of those, 39 prefectural education boards, including those in Tokyo and Osaka Prefectures, said they had conducted such investigations primarily in their public high schools. Meanwhile, 17 municipal education boards, including those in Nagoya and Fukuoka, responded that they had conducted an investigation into their elementary and junior high schools.

On the other hand, eight prefectural education boards in Aomori, Fukushima, Tochigi, Kanagawa, Nara, Tottori, Okayama and Ehime, as well as three municipal education boards in Sapporo, Sendai and Yokohama replied that they had not conducted such a survey. .

The Mainichi questionnaire also asked whether the 47 prefectural boards of education had also conducted fact-finding investigations into elementary and junior high schools and other institutions through local municipalities, above the council’s supervised public high schools. Of those, 11 prefectural education boards in Ibaraki, Niigata, Toyama, Fukui, Hyogo, Hiroshima, Ehime, Nagasaki, Oita, Kagoshima and Okinawa said they had, indicating that those boards were mostly more positive about the investigation.

In addition, the Mainichi survey asked whether the education board had issued a notice of re-examination of school regulations to their school or municipal education board within their jurisdiction, in response to the education ministry’s directive. Of these, 63 education boards, or 94%, said they had, resulting in the ripple effect of national government initiatives driving improvements in schools. Meanwhile, four municipal education boards in Sendai, Sagamihara, Nagoya and Fukuoka said they had not issued the notification yet.

(Japanese original by Tsuyoshi Goto, Digital News Department)