Japanese men will no longer need buzz cuts as military relaxes strict hairstyle rules

Japanese men will no longer need buzz cuts as military relaxes strict hairstyle rules

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Japan is planning to relax hairstyle rules for its defence recruits this year in a bid to increase applications amid a declining birth rate.

According to the new plan, women will no longer be required to have short hair and can have long hair as long as it is tied up and does not obstruct helmets or hats.

According to Mainichi, men will no longer need buzz cuts and athletic hairstyles will be the standard.

The Ministry of Defence is planning to relax the strict hairstyle regulations for new ground, maritime, and air self-defence force (SDF) officials in 2024.

In June last year, a ministry officials expert panel discussed the recruitment strategies and said they would plan necessary changes to “unreasonable rules” on the physical appearance of the country’s service members.

The move is aimed at attracting more applicants amidst competition and a declining birth rate.

This comes six months after Japan’s defence forces reconsidered its ban on tattoos in an effort to boost recruitment.

It was reported that discussions about accepting different hair colours are ongoing as opinions within the ministry are varied and officials have not yet agreed on allowing anything beyond the dyeing of grey hair.

Last year, officials reported that the SDF, the country’s military, was operating at 10 per cent below its troop capacity and had failed to meet its recruitment target last April.

“Rejecting applicants just because they have tattoos poses a problem in terms of enhancing the human resources base,” Masahisa Sato, a member of parliament, said at the time.

Tattoos are traditionally a taboo topic in Japan due to their association with the yakuza criminal gangs. However, officials acknowledged that modern young Japanese youth get tattoos for fashion rather than for yakuza affiliation.

They argued that the tattoo ban was impeding enlistment.

Japan’s health ministry, last year in June, said that the birth rate had declined for a seventh consecutive year in 2022 to a record low of 1.26 per woman. The government has since taken several measures it hopes will address its rapidly shrinking and ageing population, including increased financial aid for families raising children.

This has also led to a lack of youth to take up military positions.

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