Japan’s health and labor minister has spoken out in defense of employers who require women to wear high heels to work, saying he sees it as “necessary and appropriate.”
Takumi Nemoto made the comments in reference to a recent petition from women who want the government to ban workplaces from forcing high heels on their female employees. “It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate,” Nemoto told a legislative committee on Wednesday, according to The Guardian.
The women’s petition is part of the “KuToo” campaign — a play on words from the Japanese kutsu, meaning shoes, and kutsuu, meaning pain — launched by actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa.
In a tweet earlier this year, Ishikawa had complained about being required to wear high heels for a hotel job, and the tweet went viral, prompting the campaign, according to The Guardian.
Ishikawa told reporters after a recent meeting with ministry officials, “Today we submitted a petition calling for the introduction of laws banning employers from forcing women to wear heels as sexual discrimination or harassment.” She added that a female government official had said she was “sympathetic to our petition.”
A similar petition against mandating high heels at work was signed by more than 150,000 people in the UK, according to The Guardian, when receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home by accounting firm PwC on her first day of work in May 2016 for wearing flats.
In 2015, the director of the Cannes film festival apologized in the wake of a controversy over women being denied access to the red carpet for not wearing high heels, according to The Guardian. The festival kept the dress code, despite a protest from Julia Roberts, who went barefoot the next year.
Read the full story at The Guardian.