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Girl sues Tokyo high school that made her drop out for breaking no-dating rule

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Given how filled Japanese entertainment media is with stories of idyllic teenage romances, you’d be forgiven for assuming that love is in the air whenever class is in session. The irony, though, is that it’s not uncommon for Japanese schools to have rules specifically prohibiting their students from having any sort of romantic life, under the logic that they should be focused on their studies and school-sanctioned extracurricular activities.

To clarify, these aren’t just rules against students making out in the band room after class or holding hands in the hall. Schools with no-romance rules place full bans on students dating, including their time off-campus.

Of course, young love has never been all that interested in the decrees of adult authority, and some students at no-romance schools develop feelings for one another anyway and date in secret. Sometimes, though, they get found out, which is what happened with two third-year students at Horikoshi High School, a private school in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, in the fall of 2019.

A teacher learned of their relationship in late November, which the pair admitted to after questioning. Horikoshi’s student handbook expressly prohibits students from dating, and so the school’s principal advised the girl, and presumably the boy as well, to “voluntarily withdraw” from the school.

The highest authority in the school advising a student to voluntarily drop out sounds an awful lot like threatening them with expulsion, and the even more negative stigma that goes along with it. So the girl dropped out, even though at that point she was only a few months away from graduation (Japanese high school lasts three years).

However, the time since has done nothing to bring her around to the Horikoshi’s way of thinking, and she’s now suing the school for what she says was an abuse of its power. At the time of the incident, she would have been 17 or 18, and she asserts that she suffered significant psychological distress as a result of the school’s actions. As compensation, she’s seeking 3.7 million yen in damages from Horikoshi Gakuen, the managing entity of Horikoshi High School.

Opening statements were made in Tokyo district court on Feb 3, with Horikoshi stating its intent to fight the lawsuit. It’s worth noting that the trial is unlikely to chip away at the no-dating policy itself that’s in place at Horikoshi and other schools that share its philosophy, as the former student’s core legal complaint is not that the rule itself is unfair, but that the de facto punishment she was handed down for it was overly severe.

Sources: NHK News Web, Shizuoka Shimbun SBS

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese schoolgirl points out an especially dumb part of her school’s “no tights” dress code

-- Naturally brown-haired Osaka student sues government for forcing her to dye her hair black

-- Teacher says Japanese schools’ mandatory extracurricular activity rules don’t benefit students

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Growing up in Japan must be so fun.

45 ( +51 / -6 )

Growing up in Japan must be so fun.

I often think that. When I walk past a Japanese high school or university campus, I think "thank god I spent my formative years in Canada."

33 ( +40 / -7 )

Crazy. Utter madness.

26 ( +30 / -4 )

Dating is just a distraction from the valuable study she would have to do in order to enter a prestigious university and meet a fitting husband. Then all that algebra and Classical Japanese will pay off when she’s a housewife.

26 ( +28 / -2 )

For those saying "She should have known when she signed up." or "if you don't like it, don't go." Seem to be forgetting this girl was a minor so her legal acceptance of the terms and conditions attending the school was most likely neither sought nor given. The article doesn't say as much, but I imagine her parents enrolled her, thus those sorts of arguments are really not relevant.

25 ( +26 / -1 )

She knew (should have known) about the rule when she agreed to join.

If you don't like the rules of a private school, don't apply to study there.

She’s not contesting the rule. Read again.

24 ( +24 / -0 )

Don't worry. A few more years of the birth rate plummeting and the oyaji having no inclination to change the work culture in Japan, and all these private high schools will drop their rules preventing young dating. Heck, some of them might even make getting a significant other a requirement for graduation.

21 ( +25 / -4 )

I hope she wins! These kind of rules are outdated.

21 ( +24 / -3 )

I must be missing something but how can a school claim authority over a students life outside of school? sounds more than a little sketchy.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Stupid rule.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

The dinosaur administrators and bureaucrats would rather waste time and money enforcing pointless and archaic rules rather than investing in infrastructure to make remote education an easily available option and ensuring the health and safety of both teachers and students.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

in Japan, when you finish junior high school, “ your life is over ”.

13 ( +14 / -1 )


I remember my kids having a limited social life outside school, but being banned from colouring their hair, going to Karaoke with friends, amusement arcades etc etc etc etc.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

And they wonder why the birth rate is so low and the divorce rate is increasing in this country. Teens need to have experiences, not necessarily sexual, but relationships. Otherwise they end up marrying the first person they meet in their 20s or 30s and usually its a mistake because they don't know how to interact with the opposite gender. Or they don't end up in a relationship at all. Thats the case all over Japan. Even the government has tried stepping in to organize match making services. Sometimes I think this country is beyond repair.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japan, is supposed to be a free democratic society and yet it has far too many outdated, communist / dictatorship style rules. Why are most official bodies, agencies and organizations in Japan run and governed like they're in North Korea???

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I hope she wins, Schools here have toooo much control over the daily lives of Japanese kids, it's one of the reasons why kids never grow up here.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

If you don't like the rules of a private school, don't apply to study there.

Did she (or a typical minor in Japan) really have a choice, though? Even if she picked the school and her parents went with her choice, schools banning dating may be very common, and I bet this was not the part they advertised - did they even mention it before slapping her with the handbook with that rule buried into it?

If not, then the whole "It's a contract" argument becomes a bit weak. It's an interesting attempt - let's see how far she will go.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

JAPAN!!! Where you are NOT ALLOWED to be human!!!

So utterly PRIMITIVE!!

Thank GOD I didnt grow here, hell the only way I & I suspect most posters survive in Japan is PRECISELY because we didnt grow up here!!

How sad & pathetic!!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I’ve seen teachers (at a private JHS) sit down with a young girl for hours and literally break them down into conformity-it was like a brainwashing session more than anything I have ever seen.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I wonder if the teacher who turned them in was jealous because someone was dating a student that they also liked!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Ah, Japan! Stranger than fiction!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Accurately describing what a housewife does is far different than saying women talking is annoying.

I did my stint as a housewife and I can assure you there was very little time to sit around at home doing nothing the vast majority of the day. Life is a lot easier now that I can spend hours sitting in front of the computer and even get paid for it. Men (don't want to stereotype but yeah, it's mostly men) who think a house runs itself, children rear themselves, the household budget balances itself and meals magically appear three times a day with no effort on anyone's part are destined to grow into mini-Moris. If they aren't there already.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

If the parents earn under 7.2 million, the taxpayer is paying the fees. Even in Tokyo, this means this school will be very heavily publicly funded.

My impression of Japanese schools is that it is not the schools with the highest academic level that have the most rules. Many top schools have no uniform, so it is incorrect to assume the uniforms or rules are related to good marks in tests.

Since the taxpayer often pays and the entrance procedure differs, many parents use private schools as suberi-dome, a backup insurance option. It would to assume that it is always an active choice for a child to go private.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


That is why companies like Goldman Sachs are among the most hated entities in the world.

People before me already mentioned it: young people need to earn that experience of interacting with the opposite gender. How do you expect people to learn how to have a satisfying personal life it not by getting rid of those archaic rules? No wonder why many Japanese people end up becoming hikikomori and sex offenders by the time they become adults. Meanwhile, birth rates plummet and divorce rates skyrocket.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Expelled for going out on a date!! Japan has to move on , it’s so out of date with these rules, should set a date when these rules should be modified to the current situation in schools...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

teenage pregnancy, and Satan’s temptations are real.

I hope this was a joke!

Catholic school (yep where I am from public schools were divided by religion now people know why I am an atheist).

I knew more girls that got pregnant in Catholic schools than the secular schools where they taught about human biology including reproduction, STD, birth control, etc...

Leaving children ignorant is the best way for them to get the wrong information and get in trouble.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

She and He could go on-line and ask for international support including funding, the best human rights lawyers, and publicity for the school administrators. Or, maybe they could accept the situation and move on with their lives just like everyone else. It depends on how much you want to change the world. In the end, you can accomplish anything you want if you are really determined.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I do want to know if the boy was also forced out. Does anyone know for sure?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Schools with no-romance rules place full bans on students dating, including their time off-campus.

That is just so backward. What a student does off-campus is their business and as long as they are not going on crime sprees , the school should have nothing to do with it.

Some companies for example, Goldman Sachs forbid employees from romantic relationships with each other.

I seriously doubt that. Some companies, including mine, discourage dating with direct reporting authority , the purpose being to prevent sexual harassment.

If such people get into a relationship, they are encouraged to move to a different position!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

sit around at home doing nothing the vast majority of the day.

Echoes of Mori...

Interesting that only the girl appears to have been forced to drop out.

The article mentions presumably the boy as well, but then we hear no more about him.

Was he also forced to drop out, but accepted his fate and found a blue-collar job instead of graduating and going on to university?

Was he forced to drop out, but didn't suffer significant psychological distress as a result of the school’s actions and so didn't feel the need to sue?

Or did he refuse to drop out, graduated as planned and went on to university studies?

Or is the presumably a presumption too far, and only the wayward girl was held up as an example, after all boys will be boys?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A woman in Japan succeeding? Good luck! This law suit is as good as done.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think all these strict rules and meddling with students' private lives is doing more harm than good, also in the sense of their studies:

more freedom = relaxed mind, and a relaxed mind tends to learn better. If studying was also made more interesting and fun, the students would enjoy it more, and also - learn better.

All these rules, starting from the nit-picky rules related to the school uniforms, are utter madness and just pointless. I was a teacher at one point, and while attending a teacher's meeting, a question from the female students was brought in to the attention of the teachers: "It's getting really cold now, so could we wear tights or leggings under our uniforms, please?" And who got to decide on this matter? An oaji teacher. This old geezer, alone, decided and declared, that the girls can wear "sheer skin-colored tights on their way to the school, but no leggings or thick tights". I was boiling with anger and frustration, I wanted to scream. I would've lost my job though, if I did. Just ended up gazing him with my murderous look, and avoided his company from thereafter. It was also so frustrating, that no female teacher said anything against his words, even though I could see their discontented faces.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I hope she wins.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Whats next? will the school bring back chastity belts? can some one just remind them what century were in please.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

*I’ve met women** with MDs who were housewives. Yup, go to medical school and practice for five years to quit and sit around at home doing nothing the vast majority of the day.*

I see. Sorry I misinterpreted what you intended to say.

But.... those plural housewife MDs (how many? 2? 3? half a dozen?) of your acquaintance who sat around all day lived in pigsties, had wild uneducated kids and fed the family on nowt but fast food?

You think you are representative of all housewives? - would seem to suggest that you think sitting around all day wasting an education is more typical than actually doing the housework, which is what, believe it or not, the vast majority of housewives spend their days doing.

I don't want to paint you as some kind of misogynist. I usually find myself nodding alone with most of your posts, which I think is why this one bothered me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

“At the time of the incident, she would have been 17 or 18”

What a strong evidence for the low birth rate.

When are you supposed to “learn” about this boys&girls thing?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is crazy, the schools do nothing to investigate bulling but forces a girl to dye her naturally brown her black investigate a student for dating and ask that they drop out. The school system is guilty and they should be sued, I hope she wins!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

She knew (should have known) about the rule when she agreed to join.

If you don't like the rules of a private school, don't apply to study there.

The article doesn't specifically say she chose to attend that particular school. In all likelihood it was a choice made by her parents when she was 14 or 15 and she had no say in the matter. She may have even hated the place.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When demography will be so critical, rule will change to become compulsory dating for everyone !

Japan will always be Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You think you are representative of all housewives?

I certainly don't think I am/was in any way special.

Most of those people are extremely ignorant.

I agree.

So which is it, the housewives are running round doing all the housework (which you admit only extremely ignorant people think they're not doing), or they're sitting around at home the vast majority of the day doing nothing (which you initially claimed)?

Don't see how you can have it both ways....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@P. Smith Today 10:19 am JST

Her parents contracted with the school and agreed their daughter would follow the rules.

So what is her daughter? An object?

The girl is suing for mental anguish from how the rule was enforced; she is not suing because the rule exists.

The interesting question would be whether this was the girl's first position, or whether it is the position after a lawyer told her the Japanese courts are simply not progressive / liberal enough for a lawsuit for the existence of the rule to have a chance.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The lawsuit isn’t about the rule. How many times do people need to be told this?

Did she break some other rule then that caused the "emotional distress"?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On the school rating site minkou, this school has a very low rating (2.5 out of 5). The typical hensachi grade score is around 40, so academically speaking it is also well below average. The reason I looked it up was to see if it was a girls' school, but it is co-ed.

fwiw, some big-name talento went there, including Inagaki from Smap and Ayase Haruka.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

High school is when you're supposed to be dating!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

P. Smith Today 12:00 pm JST

No, under the custody and control of her parents. Children do not have full rights until they reach the age of majority. Until then, their parents are entrusted to make choices for the children.

Believe me, I think I am aware of the standard legal rationalizations on this topic. However, in practical terms, how does this differ from the child being an object? We say the child is a Civil Law subject with "civic capacity", but has "limited dispositive capacity" (or some variant of this concept) before majority, the parent gets the right to choose "in the child's interest" and usually in exchange the child does not bear liability.

In this case, the child, ostensibly a subject yet deprived of her right to choose, nevertheless bears the liability.

Likely a lawyer, but not for the reason you stated.

I chose the words because I believe the court does have a legally-defensible option to do something if it is motivated. For example, Japanese courts have invalidated the portion of idol contracts that prevent them from dating in some cases, and those are contracts clearly signed at the initiative of the idol (not a parent).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

3.7 million yen seems like an arbitrary number. After lawyer fees it definitely isn't about being properly financially compensated. Albeit it is rare to see massive suits here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@cleo and @p. Smith.

Single father here, raised 2 on my own ran the gamut of all the rules regulations all public schools from fighting about the natural colour of my daughter's hair ( the idea she had light colour hair was so very confusing for them seeing her brother hair very typical thick dark Japanese hair) to the need for sunscreen due to extremely pale skin ( in their minds sunscreen= makeup).

The one constant was the PTA mothers that spent most of their days sitting around in a coffee shop or family restaurant yaking, gossiping especially about working mothers and children with single parent.

And I do not live in any rich area total shitamachi.

As for doing housework most of the day! Please not unless they have a very very big house and many children.

A Japanese house is tiny, most have one or 2 children.

I could clean my house now and my apartment then in less than 2 hours taking my time, laundry again automatic washing machine veranda to dry, now all in one machine wash & dry takes no time at all shopping not a big time consumer and cooking a hour to prepare and cook most days unless it is something really special.

Housewives today do very little, this is not our mother's time with 3,4,5 children, loads of laundry with an old fashion machine.

Honestly I worked and did all the house work on my own and still found time for myself.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japanese fossils: Don’t you even THINK about dating or romance or partners or relationships or ANYTHING like that!!

Also Japanese fossils: NoOo BaBIEs NaZEDeSuKA!???!?!1!?11!?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Schools do not have the right to ban anything done in private and away from school. Any school trying to make such rules should be fined and censured.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Although the culture is different and I may never understand, Japanese schools do seem to weld an unhealthy control over students life. It would seem that some students have had enough. I wouldn't have wanted to go to school in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

in Japan, when you finish junior high school, “ your life is over ”.

meaning, you,re now part of the infamous Japanese bubble and there’s no such thing as real freedom. J-society tells you what to do, how to do it and when. the whys don,t exist


from what i,ve been hearing (and as expected), the majority of Japanese is against these prehistoric rules. problem is the dinosaurs in charge and yes they (still) rule Jp. nobody lives forever but this country loves nepotism.

younger generations, it,s up to you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Horikoshi’s student handbook expressly prohibits students from dating" I get it, the rule is stupid. What I'm not for is her winning a lawsuit for breaking a rule she knew was in place.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Cheers, P. Smith.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That’s exactly why it is now a country with many people unmarried and one of the lowest birth rates. They early strangle any love and romance intentionally and with full force. In addition the results of learning don’t increase but decrease, but it’s difficult to explain and they wouldn’t understand too. lol

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If I had a child, especially around 17 yrs old, I would expect the school to make tracking ankle bracelets and ban mobile phones and social media use outside of school.

SARS-CoV-2, STDs, teenage pregnancy, and Satan’s temptations are real.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Private School... so yeah I feel they can enforce this. The school isn't just restricting them, as it is an aspect to their product, a kind of environment, they have sold to others. As in, "hey school, you promised me," the father of another student, "that this rule would be enforced to generate a certain learning atmosphere. So, I'll sue you too." The school is compelled to do what it did.

Public School... then I feel it would be a totally inappropriate overreach into sovereign citizen's personal affairs.

...but then again that seems to be really common with governments these days.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I must be missing something but how can a school claim authority over a students life outside of school? sounds more than a little sketchy.

Isn't the same thing happening in almost every country now? Schools and businesses are expelling and firing people after seeing their social media activity, for example.

The entire world is becoming more authoritarian, not less.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Some companies for example, Goldman Sachs forbid employees from romantic relationships with each other. This school seems to have similar strict rules that might help the students to thrive in a multinational corporation.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Crazy. Utter madness.

Yeah, but if you dont like the rules, no need to go there either.

-17 ( +5 / -22 )

hmmm. tough one, but agree that the two should not have been dating but rather focusing on what their parents are paying for vs selfish action. The dating could have waited until after education. Then they would see the wisdom behind what they don't know.

-20 ( +2 / -22 )

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