More and more municipalities in Japan are scrambling to amend or abolish what are widely criticized as draconian school rules long imposed on students, heralding a rethink of a long-standing teaching culture that has prized conformity and docility.

In the latest example, the board of education in Gifu Prefecture has run a sweeping review of rules upheld by high schools under its jurisdiction. Such rules, known as kōsoku, typically refer to internal codes of conduct that each junior high and high school imposes on pupils under their care, often dictating a strict dress code that extends to the length and color of their hair.

The investigation by the Gifu Prefectural Board of Education found that more than 90 percent of its 61 full-time high schools had maintained rules so stringent that they risked compromising the human rights of the students.