Beard ban sparks controversy

The Isesaki city government has stirred controversy with an edict to public servants not to grow beards.

In a notice distributed to city workers Tuesday, Isesaki city said the ban was placed because some citizens find facial hair “unpleasant.”

The notice, aimed to inform workers of the start Wednesday of the summer “Cool Biz” campaign to reduce air-conditioning by dressing down, also cautioned against wearing whatever they like.

At present, no male city worker sports a beard or moustache, but some staffers appearing with stubble after a holiday period have drawn complaints from citizens, city officials said.

But Fumio Haruyama, a lawyer who chairs the Gunma Bar Association’s human rights panel, says a total ban “could infringe on personal rights.” He said that a well-groomed beard or moustache is now socially acceptable.

An official in the internal affairs ministry’s Local Public Service Personnel Division said rules restricting hairstyles or beards, and controversy over them, are unheard of.