In Japanese schools, kindergartens/preschools and childcare centres, parents are told not to send their children to school in clothes with hoods or drawstrings.

Alarmed by a number of recent incidents in which children have suffered injuries or been choked by the drawstrings of hooded garments, the trade ministry plans to create official safety standards for children’s clothing, to bring them in line with those of the EU, US and other international safety standards. The Economy, Trade and Industry inaugurated a panel of experts, including representatives of children’s apparel makers and consumer organizations, to discuss safety standards, that aims to come up with a set of recommendations to apparel makers that are expected to include a proposal to make hoods more easily detachable. A number of programmes on TV and in the newspapers have been currently examining the issue.

Drawstrings ‘a hazard in children’s apparel’ (Oct.20, 2012, The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Alarmed by a number of recent incidents in which children have suffered injuries or been choked by the drawstrings of hooded garments, the trade ministry plans to create official safety standards for children’s clothing.

On Thursday, the Economy, Trade and Industry inaugurated a panel of experts, including representatives of children’s apparel makers and consumer organizations, to discuss safety standards.

The panel, which will spend six months studying overseas safety standards for children’s clothing, aims to come up with a set of recommendations to apparel makers that are expected to include a proposal to make hoods more easily detachable.

One mother living in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, said she sewed the hood onto the inside of a coat for her 7-year-old daughter after the child was hurt playing outside.

“My daughter fell down once when another child grabbed her hood and on another occasion she caught her hood in playground equipment. I want my daughter to dress nicely, but I put priority on safety,” she said.

In a 2006 survey of 1,163 parents with children aged 1-12, the Tokyo metropolitan government found that 77 percent of the respondents were worried that the clothing the children wore was unsafe. Among comments, the parents said: “My child choked when her hood got stuck on playground equipment,” and “A button fell off and my child accidentally swallowed it.”

A total of 16.5 percent said their children were injured in similar accidents.

According to the Japan Pediatric Society’s committee to improve children’s living environments, a 4-year-old girl caught her hood in the front door of her house in March this year. As the door closed, the drawstring on her hood choked her and she had to be hospitalized.

The Japan Women’s and Children’s Wear Manufacturers’ Association has its own guidelines for children’s wear. They recommend that the outer clothes for children smaller than 120 centimeters should not have a hood or a drawstring near the neck.

However, as many children’s apparel makers do not belong to the association, the guidelines are not widely implemented.

The panel will consider regulations on hoods and the length of drawstrings, based on overseas standards. It also will consider conducting tests on buttons and other accessories to find out how easily they can become detached from clothing.

A report that the panel will compile next March will include information on the market for children’s wear.

The United States, Britain and the European Union have their own official safety standards for children’s wear.

For example, the EU prohibits drawstrings around the neck area for clothes for children aged 6 and younger. Drawstrings for children aged 7 and older are permitted, but the length of the loose string should be less than 15 centimeters when pulled.

“I hope [the ministry] creates standards to ensure children’s safety that are acceptable by international standards,” said Hideko Tajika, an official at the Nippon Association of Consumer Specialists.

(Oct. 20, 2012)