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Armani uniform at Tokyo public elementary school spurs parents' complaints

However, when their costs were released a year ago, parents balked.

Taimei Elementary School, in Ginza, one of Tokyo's most expensive and traditional districts, provides free education in common with all Japan's public (state-funded) elementary schools, which 99 per cent of Japanese children attend. According to details published Thursday by Huffington Post Japan, the full uniform set, including a bag and a hat, could set parents back more than 80,000 yen (over $730).

Some of the uniform's items, including the jacket, trousers and skirt, were designed by Italian luxury brand Armani.

While the school says the new uniforms are not mandatory, critics said parents would feel compelled to buy them to ensure their children were not left out. Although the uniform at Taimei Elementary School is voluntary, nearly all the students wear it. "I chose to change the standard uniform to Armani in the hope of creating an awareness of being a Ginza school", the notice read. Adopting an Armani uniform is like saying "no to poor people" or that "only those children who take pride in Armani should come", wrote well-known education personality Naoki Ogi, also known as Ogi-Mama, on his blog.

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The uniform was brought up at a Budget Committee meeting at the House of Representatives on Thursday, with Finance Minister Taro Aso commenting on the "pretty expensive" price.

"I was surprised and wondered why such luxury uniforms have been picked for a public elementary school", one mum told Huffington Post Japan.

"A thorough discussion between the PTA, parents and other parties involved should have been held", an education board official said. As The Telegraph notes, it is just 656 ft away from Armani's head office.

But parents of the students weren't on board with the new duds when they found out the prices. Wada said that the controversy surrounding the choice had not changed his belief that the cost of the new uniforms was worth it, according to news agency reports.

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Explaining the decision to parents in a letter dated last November, the headmaster, Toshitsugu Wada, said the uniform would reflect the district given the school is "a Ginza landmark and brand".

The new clothing will be introduced for students entering the school in April, while existing students can continue wearing their current attire.

But by choosing these pricey uniforms, the elementary school has parents anxious about the ramifications of being unable to afford the uniform - and what it would mean for their child to show up to school without it.

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