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Rules Regulating Appearance Put Many Students, LGBT Teens at Risk

A recent case in Osaka, Japan, about hair color, highlights the risks of imposing social conformity. Many schools in Japan have strict policies around hair color, dress, and other appearance, and students can face harsh consequences if they fail to…
High school students wearing face masks walk in Tokyo, January 16, 2021. 
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Bill Would Make 18 Minimum Marriage Age for Women and Men

In the global push to end child marriage, Japan looks set to join the movement. A proposed revision of Japan’s Civil Code would set the minimum age of marriage at 18 for both women and men. At present, people must be 20 years…
A bride in traditional Japanese wedding attire poses for photos with her groom at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hatsukaichi, southwestern Japan April 16, 2008.
News

New Policy Will Help Open School Doors

The big picture is bleak for Syrian refugee children, but the Jordanian government recently took a step to ensure these children’s right to an education. Jordanian regulations require Syrian children to have a “service card,” issued by the…
Syrian children attend class in a school in the Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan, October 20, 2015. The school taught Syrian girls in the morning and boys in the afternoon, but lacked electricity, heating, and running water.
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At Least 10 More Years of Official Silence on LGBT Lives in Schools

The Japanese government has missed an opportunity to introduce information about sexual and gender minorities to classrooms during a once-in-a-decade review of its national educational curriculum. Instead, the government said in March that including…
manga drawing by Taiji Utagawa
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School Guidelines Should Address Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

Last year, my colleagues and I interviewed sexual and gender minority youth from across Japan to learn about their experiences at school. The information we documented was harrowing: harassment and bullying colored the lives of many of the youth we met.…
manga drawing by Taiji Utagawa of a transgender man with head down in the dark with three white spots leading into the distance
News
The groundbreaking amendment to the Child Welfare Act that the Japanese Diet passed today opens up the possibility of a future in which all children in Japan can live with families. Credit goes to Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki for…
Beds in sleeping quarters for elementary school girls at a child care institution in Iwate prefecture. Eight girls share a room, and the space on their own bed is the only place children are allowed some privacy.
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“I only read about LGBT people because I knew Human Rights Watch was coming to interview me,” a teacher in Tokyo told me last November while I was researching bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students in Japan’s schools. …
A 20 year old Japanese woman who was bullied by her classmates in junior high school holds a notebook displaying the message...
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This week, Japan took a historic step in tackling the global threat of mercury: it joined the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The treaty is named after the Japanese fishing town of Minamata, where one of the world’s worst mercury poisoning disasters…
Minamata memorial
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Accused of not being “girly enough,” she was frequently swarmed by students and beaten with a roll of paper. Her teachers witnessed the abuse again and again but did nothing. She begged her junior high classmates for help -- but they told her to endure…
A 20 year old Japanese woman who was bullied by her classmates in junior high school holds a notebook displaying the message...