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Stores raided over school uniform cartel

28 Comments
By Odd ANDERSEN

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© 2019 AFP

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The idea of a "little used" shop is a fab idea, for the parents its a good idea, for the school its a bad idea, because they loose money, well that's a bit of tough luck! you should be no so greedy !! if a top, skirt, shirt, blouse has only been worn a few times, why not recycle it? If I remember rightly Japan is quite hot on recycling? I am surprised that there is not a cottage industry in the local area where a senior person who would like a bit of extra income who can work with textiles, couldn't they unpick and re embroider names on various items?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting story. I can sympathize with other parents on here who have put their kids thru the "uniform hoop".

I'm actually a fan of uniforms coming from Australia where they are the norm.

The Big positives there are that, generally they can be bought cheap, they are not exclusive - a white shirt is a white shirt, they are almost always handed down to siblings if condition is ok. In addition, every school I've ever had connection to (attending & working at) has a 2nd hand clothes shop, where good condition, washed, pressed school clothes are available for very reasonable prices. The sellers get a bit of money(altho often donated) and the buyers are not broken. Also many schools sell whole or parts of the uniforms themselves, esp sweaters & polo shirts etc which by cutting out the middle-man, are cheaper and brings profits to the school for books, computers etc.

My experience with kids in Japan is as most have stated. You MUST purchase "authentic" only items from authorized dealers. Those simple girls white socks that look the same are not ok. Why? They don't have the fine embroided line on top. That blouse has a different collar, etc. People often like to jump on the "eco" bandwagon and considerthe 3 Rs as important, but when it comes to Recycling - well that just flies. Hence 2nd hand school uniform sales here are almost non-existent and further more wearers of such would be severely looked down upon by many.

And as others mentioned, at the kids jnr & snr high schools, all sports uniforms winter & summer pants and tops, had to have their names officially embroidered by the officially designated embroidering shop. When my youngest daughter entered Snr High, the embroidery shop decided her long hyphenated name was too troublesome so they opted for the shortened Japanese only version ie - Sachiko Suzuki instead of Sachiko Suzuki-Browny. Sorry I insisted to the teacher, but that's not her name. It's a mistake. So the short of it was they had to unpick the stitching and reconfigure the computer to accept the full correct version. No big deal, but I had a wry smile because - well it's your rules about everything being perfect.

And as I said earlier - I'm a big fan of uniforms and when I was in school we often wore holey sweaters (jumpers in Aust), faded shirts, thread bare pants etc with a sense of pride - kind of a reverse snobbery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ Melissa Shimosato.

If they can be found on Alibaba, then order cartons of them and sell them at a reasonable price to parents. That will upset those with a gouging vested interest and help other parents at the same time.

Could be a winner!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@kohakuebisu

We're in inaka and lots of kids wear hand-me-down uniforms. Parents scrabble to get them from older kids before their kids start. "We didn't pay" is almost a point of pride. My own kids' gym kit at elementary has their older brother or sister's name crossed out on the name tag. It does not lead to bullying.

You might be right, I didn't consider schools in inaka. We live in Tokyo and most kids here don't have siblings and if they do it's usually only one. Most of the families close to us didn't (couldn't?) send their kids to the same school as one another so they wouldn't have the same uniform to hand down anyhow.

People in the city are a lot more pretentious in this way I guess.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This belongs in the crime section.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Its about time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I remember the appearance of all the guys at my son's graduation: almost all of them were wearing uniforms that were minutes from disintegration. It was touching in a way but also a sign that their parents had had enough of this extortion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We're in inaka and lots of kids wear hand-me-down uniforms. Parents scrabble to get them from older kids before their kids start. "We didn't pay" is almost a point of pride. My own kids' gym kit at elementary has their older brother or sister's name crossed out on the name tag. It does not lead to bullying.

In Japan, you must have the exact uniform. The uniform is not merely a set of guidelines like "grey sweater". Making it yourself or buying it in China are not options.

The article is correct that uniforms are unnecessarily expensive. Gym kit is too, especially given how old-fashioned and low tech it is. Thick, heavy nylon that is lower quality than Uniqlo, but about three times the price. Expensive gym kit and swimming costumes discourage parents from buying spares, which means you end up with parents (mothers) washing gym kit, swimming costumes, school lunch aprons etc. every single day. You then have to dry them and have them ready for 7am the next day. Every little job schools create for parents, every letter, every form that needs a hanko, every little towel or cotton apron that needs washing, every bit of homework that needs supervision and a hanko etc. robs parents of their time and energy. It prevents them from having more meaningful engagement with their kids and indeed prevents women from being more active in society. It gives those with no intention of working plenty of excuses, but cranks up the drudge for everyone else.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Vast and tradition bound . . .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Brian Wheway

I can't speak for ALL schools but at my daughter's school you can't just go out and buy the uniform, they're also not available online. The supplier is online and they do have things like the hat and the socks that you can purchase (although at a higher price) but we had to buy through the school. Plus all of her indoor uniforms are embroidered with their first and last names so we had to order the uniform at school sign up so those uniforms would be easy to pick out. A lot of uniforms are unique to THAT school so if you had a different uniform or just didn't have a uniform they would almost certainly send you home from school and you'd probably get in trouble.

And not to be a Debbie Downer but, a kid going to school in obviously secondhand or perhaps not in a uniform at all would likely get bullied pretty hard (probably not the lower years though). So by sending your child to school in any condition that is not at the same level as their classmates is basically an invitation for your child to be bullied. Not to mention the parents would look down on you and even if you don't care it would be humiliating for the child to have his classmates and their parents talking about your questionable parenting practices.

So you just save up and deal with it. No matter how long it takes to save. I'm not saying it's right or logical but it's Japan and Japan doesn't change very easily.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The news article makes a comment about a "set" what is in that set? shoes, dress, tops, socks, skirts, trousers, hat? it roughly works out to be £270 that seams a lot, but is the set a basic uniform? is there more to buy on top for after school classes? her in the UK you can buy kids skirts for £5 in some of the super markets and shirts are pretty cheap to, does any one want some I can post!! kids get through shoes and school kit very quickly, so what would happen IF the parents were on a low income, would they send there kids to school in a non school uniform? would they be accepted?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you check alibaba.com you will see those same uniforms made in China and costing no more the 3000 Yen equivalent. I would buy them from China...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Walmart?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I support the wearing of uniforms they can be produced at more sensible prices. My mother made all our uniforms for her four sons including the shirts. She only brought the required caps.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

How about the Japanese elementary school bags usually going for a cool $400 or so?

That there my friends is the longest running cartel that I know. Used to be a bit more actually.

It is a $100 bag at best.

Who are these folks and why hasn't there ever been an internal (Japan) investigation as to the ridiculous pricing on these bento and book backpacks?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Another reason not to have kids for the impoverished Japanese...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Prices of digital cameras, air cleaners etc made here in Japan are far cheaper abroad than here in Japan. The pricing in this country is just ridiculous.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

My daughters full set of preschool uniform(s), hats, socks, shoes, gym uniform, swimming uniform, karate uniform,, indoor uniform, smocks, backpack, etc. alone cost well over 10man, probably closer to 15man. She has a 3 piece suit for her cold weather uniform that cost more than anything I've ever worn except my wedding dress. As cute as it is to see a 3 year old wearing it, I can't possibly justify it. They only wear it to and from school and for ceremonies. As soon as they get to their classrooms they take it off.

Oh, and the spring/summer uniform is white. Do you know how hard it is to keep a toddler's clothes white? Even their GYM uniforms are white on top. Their summer hat is white and inside it says don't wash, so by the 3rd year everyone's hats are the same color as the walls in a smoking-area in a restaurant. Blech.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Sheesh. Don'tget me started on the cost of school supplies in this country - I put two kids through private school.

In my home state of California, many school districts have a dress standard - for example, khakis and a polo for the boys - but parents are able to choose where to shop.

Another interesting point is that many schools require their students to wear uniforms even when out socially. My daughter was terrified of being caught on the shopping arcade in street clothes: She'd seen too many of her friends busted by passing teachers.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

My favourite establishment in Roppo (Climax) was shut down due to a 'tax inspection'. The new venue opened up literally within a week. Impossible to have started up the new venture in such time without having advance information.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

so like paying 320$ USD for a kid ?? is the uniform made out of dragon skin or something ?? this is really too much, even if it once a year still way too much money

Not for a kid. For one outfit. And if you'd like your child to have more than one set of clothes to wear, you've got to buy more than one outfit. This likely does not include a PE uniform (to be purchased separately) but might include the backpack (a specific one which is also required and more expensive than you could possibly believe). And then what happens when you child comes home and wants to join the cheerleading club? That's a whole new uniform and backpack to purchase.

What if the parents can't afford it? Are thier kids not allowed to go to school?

Correct. This was an issue at the school of my friend's children. Some parents said "I'm going to send them to school with whatever clothes we have - what's the school going to do?" The school sent them home, and then punished them for an unexcused absence. Some parents found an "older model" uniform from the same school at a second-hand clothing store. The school refused it - the new uniform had a slightly different design on the pocket or some such nonsense.

What if the parents can't afford it?

They work tirelessly to make it happen. These prices and expectations are much more common and expected in Japan than in Western countries. Being able to provide expensive school uniforms is a source of pride for many Japanese parents, who see it as "showing their love" for their child. People take extra jobs or work part time (on top of their already-loaded schedules) to make this happen.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Why not just have the schools supply the uniforms? If it's required, the school should provide it. What if the parents can't afford it? Are thier kids not allowed to go to school?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Uniforms are usually more expensive than regular clothes, costing around 30,000 to 35,000 yen for a set.

so like paying 320$ USD for a kid ?? is the uniform made out of dragon skin or something ?? this is really too much, even if it once a year still way too much money to be paid for such uniform i mean its not even protecting you from radiation or i would be happy to pay that.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Shop elsewhere? It's the entire country priced overtly high. It's one thing if we're talking goods that had to come all the way from the EU/US/etc, but even when the stuff was made in country you get the bs "it's made in Japan" therefore it should be expensive. Doesn't matter if you're talking fruit, cars, clothes at the mall, etc.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

You do not NEED the over-priced goods that you see in stores. Shop elsewhere. Schoolchildren NEED the uniforms that are required by their school, and cannot shop elsewhere. Therefore, families can truly be hurt by collusive price-gouging.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

They are just setting it up for a favoured partner to takeover the market share. It's a well known practice in Japan.

Where I'm from in North London the only store to have survived my local high street for that past 45 years is the school uniforms supplier. Talk about a cartel. It has literally been one store serving around 5 schools. Guaranteed to have some "agreement" with the local schools authority.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

They need to raid every store that sell item price with ridiculous price. Why only this place is being raided?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Now just raid every other store in Japan who are all conspiring to make things expensive for no reason other than because they can.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

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