Privacy concerns nudge junior high schools in Japan to consider removing name tags from uniforms
Japan/March 28, 2023/By: Amanda Lee/Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/
Junior high schools in Japan are looking to stop sewing or embroidering name tags on school uniforms to protect students’ identities.
On Sunday, Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported that schools across the country are considering this move following several incidents of children being targeted or harassed.
For example, in Saga prefecture, an unknown man took photos of a girl’s face and name tag while she was on her way to school. The man then posted the photos online.
This prompted the local police in 2021 to request that schools and education boards review their policies on name tags on school uniforms, among other things.
Some schools in Osaka prefecture have also been reconsidering using name tags on school uniforms in the last few years.
Vice-principal Yohei Morikawa of the prefecture’s Kadoma Municipal Daiyon Junior High School told Mainichi Shimbun: “By stopping the use (of embroidered names), we can increase safety by protecting privacy. We will consider this matter based on the opinions of parents and students, as well as social trends.”
The school embroiders students’ names on uniform blazers and shirts, but is considering abolishing this practice when it joins a reorganisation of elementary and junior high schools into a nine-year compulsory school system in the 2026 academic year.
Besides protecting children’s privacy, some are demanding that schools change their policies for reasons of convenience – for example, a policy change could spare people the trouble of removing the embroidered name when handing a school uniform down to another child.
The policy on name tags and embroidered names on school uniforms is left to each school’s discretion, according to Japan’s Education Ministry.
Names are often sewn or embroidered on school uniforms as students tend to lose detachable name tags or forget to put them on, according to school officials.
For instance, a school in Shijonawate city in Osaka prefecture changed from using detachable name tags on its uniforms to embroidered names in 2015, largely because students kept losing the tags.
Students also mixed up their uniforms when someone forgot to wear their tag.
In the 2024 academic year, the school – which was not identified – plans to have students’ names embroidered on a breast-pocket flap instead of just on the uniform jacket’s chest, according to officials.
This will allow students to tuck the flaps inside their breast pockets to hide their names outside of school hours.
A source at school uniform manufacturer Takimoto, which is based in Higashiosaka city in Osaka prefecture, told Mainichi Shimbun the number of schools that embroider students’ names on their uniforms has gradually decreased.
This is due to awareness that the name tags expose children’s names to strangers, said the unidentified source.
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