Did you know that beauty parlours are technically not allowed to give male customers just a haircut? Soon they will be - the government is planning to abolish the rule, which was contained in a notice issued by the then Health and Welfare Ministry in the 1970s.
The government's decision was based on a proposal by its Regulatory Reform Council, which discussed the qualifications of barbers and hairdressers and deemed that the notice does not fit the times. The notice has existed in name only and will be reworked to match the reality that many men get their hair cut at beauty parlours.
"What, it isn't allowed?" said a surprised 18-year-old university student on June 17 as he got a haircut at Percut, a beauty parlour in the Shimokitazawa district of Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.
The notice was issued in 1978 in the name of the director general of the then Health and Welfare Ministry, and stipulates that hairdressers are not allowed to give male customers just a haircut. According to the current Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, hairdressers have acquired skills in such areas as highly designed haircuts for women and giving perms, but cutting men's hair falls within the "barbers' field."
However, many men get haircuts at beauty parlours. Strictly speaking, this violates the ministry's notice but it is well known that even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gets his hair cut at a salon.
Many members objected to the notice at a meeting of the Regulatory Reform Council, saying it was outdated. Their opinion that the notice should be reviewed was included in a draft of reforms submitted to the prime minister on June 16.
The government plans to adopt the revision at a Cabinet meeting by the end of this month. The ministry therefore intends to revise the notice and abolish the regulation regarding the gender difference, according to sources.
There is a total of about 2,500 male customers monthly at the two shops of Percut, a beauty parlour that Percut Corp. opened as a men's hair salon two years ago.
"It's strange that such a regulation still exists," said company represen-tative Tatsuya Kawaguchi, 31.
Even after the regulation is abolished, however, barbers and hairdressers will still not be allowed to work at the same place. Barbers and hairdressers are different national qualifications, and barber shops and beauty parlours must be established at different locations. It is also assumed they will not work together at the same shops.
"If barbers and hairdressers work at the same place, a hairdresser might shave a customer at their request," a health ministry official said by way of example. Only barbers are allowed to perform shaving services.
However, the number of beauty parlours has increased by about 23,000 over the past decade, while barber shops have decreased by about 12,000.
At the council meeting, some members said allowing barbers to work at beauty parlours would create more job opportunities for them and increase convenience for customers, according to sources.
Training to be reconsidered
Many customers, both men and women, wait for the ¥1,000 haircut service at QB House Max Value, a haircut specialty shop in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. The shop is divided by a glass wall and has two entrances, one for the barber room and another for the beauty parlour. Customers enter the shop by whichever entrance is open.
"We want to abolish the different entrances, as our shop's services are completely the same in the barber area and the beauty salon area," said area manager Yoshiharu Sano, 35.
QB Net Co., which operates QB House salons nationwide, has many barbers and hairdressers who work at its officially registered barber shops or beauty parlours. As of the end of May, the company had 196 barber shops, 276 beauty parlours, and 11 parallel establishments like its Atami branch.
The company has called for an end to the ban on barbers and hairdressers working at the same place. However, the council decided to propose allowing facilities where barbers and hairdressers work together on the condition that all employees are qualified as both hairdressers and barbers.
Training courses for barbers and hairdressers are expected to be reconsidered so it will be easier to get both qualifications.
A senior official at the ministry said: "Barbers and hairdressers' jobs seem similar, but they involve different techniques. We have to consider carefully how to deal with the qualifications."