News World Japanese women dig in heels against workplace shoe rules

Japanese women dig in heels against workplace shoe rules

Japanese actress and writer Yumi Ishikawa and a group of women have submitted a signature with 19,000 signatures, calling for high-heels to be forbidden as a compulsory workplace dress requirement. Photo: Getty
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Thousands of foot-weary Japanese women are digging in their heels against workplace dress codes preventing them from wearing comfortable flat shoes.

A petition with 19,000 signatures calling for high-heels to be forbidden as a dress code requirement has been submitted to the Japan government.

Started by actress and freelance writer Yumi Ishikawa, it calls for  an end to social and workplace norms enforcing the anatomically questionable foot fashion.

The wording urges the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to explicitly forbid high heels as a workplace dress code requirement.

Ms Ishikawa launched the anti-high heel petition in February after one of her twitter posts on the subject went viral, spurring her to launch a #KuToo trend, a nod to the Hollywood #MeToo movement.

The 32-year-old says she was forced to wear high heels while working at a funeral parlour, a story mirroring the experiences of many Japanese women.

High heels are considered a near-obligatory dress requirement for work in the conservative Asian nation, and virtually compulsory for anyone hoping to pass a job interview.

Ms Ishikawa’s #KuToo combines part of the Japanese word for ‘shoe’ (kutsu) with the word which means ‘pain’ (kutsuu), an apt description of the anatomically questionable foot fashion.

Supporters in social media applauded her campaign but some questioned how women’s shoes was any different to forcing men to wear suits.

One Twitter user said in a translated Japanese tweet “I don’t want to wear the pumps anymore”.

“I don’t want to be disturbed by the heel pain during the interview, and I don’t like bloody stockings. I’m sure many girls think the same thing.”

Ms Ishikawa told reporters high heels were a form of sexual discrimination, the UK’s The Telegraph reports.

“Today we submitted a petition calling for the introduction of laws banning employers from forcing women to wear heels as sexual discrimination or harassment,” Ms Ishikawa said.

She said a ministry official who met her “was a woman and sympathetic to our petition… and told us that this is the first time voices of this kind reached the ministry”.

It was the first step towards achieving their goals, Ms Ishikawa added.

It’s not the first time women around the world have stepped out on the issue after a receptionist in the UK refused to wear heels in a corporate office.

Nicola Thorp launched a similar petition when she was penalised for refusing to wear heels on her first day at London accountancy firm PwC.

She had arrived at work in flats and says she was told to go home without pay unless she went out and bought heels between two and four inches high.