Forced “Breast Checks” at Japanese Schools Leave Parents Aghast

Forced “Breast Checks” at Japanese Schools Leave Parents Aghast

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Japanese Schools Rules
Picture: mayucolor / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
An unofficial "black regulation" at some Japanese schools is decried as "creepy" and "disgusting" by parents and students alike.

The Japanese press and Twitter users have lately been lamenting some of the odd – and, in some cases, racist – rules that Japanese public schools use to keep students in place. For example, some schools insist that students with the “wrong” hair color die their hair black – even if their hair color is natural for them. Such battles have been going on for years: in 2017, a high schooler in Osaka sued Osaka Prefecture for forcing her to die her naturally brown hair. (She ultimately lost that case.)

But the existence of what some are calling “black regulations’ (ブラック校則) doesn’t stop there. One extreme rule in the city of Kawasaki in particular has parents in Japan fuming.

Permission to Wear a Bra?

As Huffington Post Japan reports, the issue was brought to light recently at a special meeting of the city’s budget committee by councilor Yamada Eri. Yamada said a concerned parent told her that her elementary school-age daughter was forbidden from wearing underwear during gym class. She asked a member of the school board if Kawasaki implemented this as a uniform rule for students in the lower grades of elementary school.

The school board member denied there was any such “rule”. However, they admitted that “some schools” might implement it as a “health measure” to prevent students from “getting cold” after they sweat.

During the meeting, Yamada also said she’d found that other schools outside of Kawasaki forbid young girls – particularly those in the first three years of elementary school – from wearing bras.

This revelation was picked up by Sukkiri!, the popular NTV morning news program, which uncovered even more disturbing information. According to one parent in Kawasaki, she was told her daughter could wear a bra…if her male homeroom teacher checked her and ascertained that her breasts were “developed” enough to warrant it. [Note: Tweet has since been deleted.]

The parent said: “This is [the] Reiwa [era], right? That’s just the kind of thing that justifies being a ‘monster parent’.”


No Permission from Parents

What’s worse is that this is all happening without parents in Japan even being aware of it. During the budget committee special hearing, Councilor Yamada asked if parents were informed that students were forbidden from wearing underwear to gym class. The school board member confirmed that they were not.

This series of revelations led to the hash tag #体操服の下 (under one’s gym clothes) on Twitter as parents expressed their outrage – and shared their own experiences. An informal poll conducted by one user, which received over 8,000 votes, showed that well over 90% of respondents thought the rule was garbage and should be discarded.

Another user commented how one parent/guardian inquired about the “rule” and was told the school would make sure no teachers were implementing it. “In other words, this is just something that some teacher just made up – that’s what’s really scary here…”

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A “Creepy” Practice

The incident raises fresh concerns about teachers at Japanese schools. Since Japan lacks a centralized database of sex offenders, teachers booted for sexual offenses can often get their credentials back and start teaching again in another prefecture within three years. In general, the country has seen a huge spike in sexual assault by teachers and other trusted caregivers since 2018.

It should be obvious that letting male teachers make up their own “regulations” that “require” them to see their female students naked is a horrible, no good, very bad idea. Considered in light of the above statistics, it’s a recipe for disaster. It is essentially giving teachers who already know they can get away with it a green light to commit abuse.

For her part, Councilor Yamada emphasized the impact this has on the students themselves – many of whom, she says, find the regulation “creepy” and “awful”.

Huffington Post JP pressed the kawasaki school board on how they plan to proceed given the uproar. The school baord said that it has launched an investigation and will “revisit” its policies when the investigation is complete.

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Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

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