A public elementary school in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district has decided to adopt new uniforms designed by the Italian luxury brand Armani, triggering protests from parents who say they are too expensive, the local education board has said.
The issue regarding Taimei Elementary School’s uniforms, priced at over ¥80,000 ($730) each including a hat and bag, was also taken up by an opposition party lawmaker at a Diet session on Thursday.
The school principal told the board of its intention to change the design of the uniform last summer. The board instructed the school to decide the matter after sufficient talks with the Parent Teacher Association and local residents.
But five cases of complaints were raised by parents, who said there wasn’t a sufficient explanation. One said, “Why Armani?” according to the board.
The school has told the board, “With the intention of making a uniform for a ‘Ginza school,’ we visited department stores and Armani agreed to design it.”
At a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday, Kibo no To (Party of Hope) lawmaker Manabu Terada addressed the issue, saying that since it is a public elementary school, “a certain (price) range needs to be considered.”
In response, Finance Minister Taro Aso said, “Clearly it’s expensive. It would be tough if a student could not afford to pay for it.”
Education minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the ministry will consider taking steps so that the burden placed on parents to purchase uniforms “would not be excessive.”
“I made the decision thinking of the school’s future. I will humbly accept criticisms that there was not enough explanation,” the principal said in a comment posted on the school’s website, adding that he will now strive to clarify the situation.
The board, meanwhile, said the school’s uniforms are ‘standard attire’ and that students are not formally obliged to wear them.