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The "short back and sides" haircut is ubiquitous among soldiers, sailors, and airmen and women in armies, navies and air forces worldwide. The Japanese Defence Ministry has just announced it will relax rules for new recruits to have this crewcut style. This is in a bid to attract more young people to its ranks. Many companies in Japan are experiencing staff shortages; and the military is no exception. From April this year, new enlistees to Japan's Self Defence Forces (SDF) will be allowed to have longer hair. Men will be able to sport longer hair on top, while female personnel can have long hair, provided it does not interfere with the wearing of a helmet or does not fall below the shoulders.

According to the Kyodo news agency, recruitment experts met last month to discuss how troop numbers could be boosted. Japan's defence forces are up against an ever-dwindling number of young people to recruit from. In addition, they have to compete with businesses who are more aggressively trying to lure new employees. Japan's Defence Minister said: "As our nation faces a serious workforce shortage, we recognize competition with others, including the private sector, to secure talent has been intensifying." He added that the easing of haircut rules would "change or eliminate regulations that lack rationality". In a related move, the ministry is considering allowing people with tattoos to join the SDF.



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