The World Has Been Criticizing Japan, and That’s a Good Thing

  • NEWS
  • Over the past week, many articles and posts on social media repudiated one of the most controversial rules some Japanese schools imposed: banning ponytails.

    The backlash is not only directed at the rule itself, but also at the reason behind it after a former teacher named Sugiyama Motoki, who has always criticized these rules, mentioned that schools were worried that boys would look at girls if they were to expose their napes.

    Controlling a girls’ appearances in order to prevent boys from being excited or losing attention is sadly not an uncommon topic around the world, and the controversy around Japan’s rule comes at a very important time just as Tokyo announced that it would abolish some of its schools’ most questionable rules , including ones that dictate which color students’ underwear must be.

    And just as Tokyo revised its school rules and which ones to abolish, other prefectures are also in the process of evaluating questionable rules. That’s why the worldwide news explosion that occurred after some news outlets mentioned the ban on ponytails can prove to be beneficial for Japan.

    Japan has long being associated with the Japanese proverb “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down,” which has so accurately defined Japanese society throughout many aspects of its history that it has also served as a self-fulfilling prophecy whenever an individual or group comes to voice their opposition to an unfair rule or law.

    More often than not, heated movements have culminated with the Japanese government ending discussions by ruling for the laws or rules being questioned. An example being the movement against forcing women to wear high heels at work. Many companies in Japan, particularly those with older corporate cultures, dictate that women have to wear high heels and in some cases even wear contact lenses instead of glasses.

    The #KuToo movement, which played with the Japanese word “kutsu”, meaning shoes, and “kutsuu”, meaning “pain” and which referenced the #MeToo movement, was born to complain about the ridiculous rule and to bring it down.The culmination came when former Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Nemoto Takumi (a man), said that high heels at the workplace were “necessary and appropriate.”

    When movements that get so much traction as the #KutToo movement being shot down like that, it is no wonder that many in Japan have stayed complacent despite being rife with many problematic laws and rules, some misogynist, some racist, and some undermining the future of younger generations.

    Tokyo listening to parents and students in order to abolish questionable school rules showed the importance of speaking out, and as other more conservative prefectures continue discussing which rules are unnecessary, the worldwide backlash unleashed by the ponytail story can exert further pressure on the local governments to end those ridiculous rules once and for all.