High heels 'necessary', Japan minister says after petition

More than 20,000 people sign petition to stop workplaces forcing women to wear heels

Actress Yumi Ishikawa founded the KuToo movement. Getty Images
Actress Yumi Ishikawa founded the KuToo movement. Getty Images

Japan's Health and Labour Minister has defended workplaces that insist women wear high heels to work, arguing it is "necessary and appropriate".

Takumi Nemoto made the comment after more than 20,000 people signed a petition asking the government to stop workplaces forcing female jobseekers and employees to wear high heels.

"It is socially accepted as something that falls with the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate," Mr Nemoto told a legislative committee on Wednesday.

The petition was submitted to the Labour Ministry on Tuesday.

The campaign has been called #KuToo, a play on words from the Japanese word "kutsu", meaning shoes, "kutsuu", meaning pain, and a reference to the global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse.

Kutoo was launched by actress and freelance writer Yumi Ishikawa and quickly won support from thousands online.

Campaigners say wearing high heels is considered almost obligatory when job hunting or working at many Japanese companies.

Some campaigners compare high heels to foot-binding, while others have urged less restrictive dress codes in the Japanese workplace, where business suits for men are ubiquitous.

In 2015, the director of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival apologised after a controversy blew up over women being denied access to the red carpet without high heels.

But Cannes kept the dress code, despite a protest by Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts who went barefoot the next year.

Updated: June 6, 2019 04:03 AM

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