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Okinawa hot under the hem over schoolgirls' short skirts

By Ryann Connell
May 19, 2005

Schoolgirl skirts are creating a massive war of words in Okinawa, Japan's tropical island prefecture in the south, according to Flash.

Okinawa's schoolgirl skirt spat started in February when Katsuhiro Yoshida, a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, complained that hemlines were too high.

"When I've been walking through the streets recently, I've been stunned by the growing number of girls wearing incredibly short skirts. I don't know where to turn my eyes. And that's a bother. Have these girls no sense of shame?" Flash quotes the politician as saying in a protest he filed with the superintendent of the prefectural board of education. "We need concrete steps to counter this."

With Yoshida's rant, suddenly all eyes turned to Okinawa --- and it wasn't to peer up schoolgirls' skirts.

Bitter debate raged throughout Okinawa's education circles, local newspapers picked up the story and the tale of schoolgirl hemlines in the island prefecture was soon making national news. Now, Okinawa's schoolgirls are posed by the threat of a prefectural ordinance outlawing them from wearing miniskirt uniforms.

A check by the men's pictorial weekly is revealing in more ways than one. Of 26 high school girls in Naha, the average skirt hem was 18.3 centimeters above the knee. Not only does that ensure the dresses give local schoolgirls plenty of exposure, it also makes them an average of 5 millimeters shorter than skirts worn by the average high school girl in Niigata, which has long claimed to have the skimpiest uniforms in the country.

Apparently, Okinawa's tropical climate has less to do with the abbreviated hems than fashion.

"We wouldn't be seen in a skirt that wasn't short," one schoolgirl tells Flash. "I'd rather die than be seen in one of the long skirts only the geeks wear."

Other complaints from Okinawa's schoolgirls about long dresses echo gripes heard elsewhere throughout Japan.

"If the hem's too long, it makes you look like a junior high school kid," says one.

Another adds: "Short skirts make your legs look longer."

School gate inspections have become the norm at Okinawa's high schools.

"It's really tough," one high school lass moans to Flash. "We get a male teacher with a ruler measuring how many centimeters the hems on our skirts rises above our knees. If it's too short, they make you go home. Some girls have been forced to change into their PE gear."

Many girls lower their hemlines for inspections and then raise them once they've passed muster.

Others say the crackdown on short skirt uniforms is all for the good of the girls.

The men's weekly says that fans of long skirts point to the rape of local lasses by members of the U.S. military stationed throughout the prefecture as good reason for the girls to choose more modest attire.

It seems likely the drive against exposing girls in the tropical prefecture is poised to continue, judging by the stance of the prefectural board of education.

"We have already sent out directives to all schools regarding overall standards of dress," a board of education spokesman tells Flash. "We will continue doing everything that we can to make sure that schools do their utmost to make sure students know what they have to do."

Mainchi Daily

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