High heels are the norm in Japanese workplaces.

Japan’s Health Minister has said that women wearing high heels are “necessary and appropriate” in the workplace.

Takumi Nemoto has responded to an online campaign trending in Japan under the hashtag #KuToo, a play on the Japanese words for shoe, “kutsu”, and pain, “kutsuu”.

The Petition 

The petition has collected 25,000 online signatures and is still growing. It was started by Japan’s Yumi Ishikawa, an actress, part-time worker and writer.

Yumi Ishikawa

Ishikawa says:

“I hope this campaign will change the social norm so that it won’t be considered to be bad manners when women wear flat shoes like men.”

Many Japanese companies may not explicitly require female employees to wear high heels but many women do so because of tradition and social expectations. Essentially it is frowned upon, not to wear high heels in the workplace.

Minister Sticks His Foot In it.

Speaking  at a lower house committee session on Wednesday, Health Minister Takumi Nemoto responded to the debate and the petition: 

“It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate,” he said.

“Whether the employers’ requirement to wear high heels is an abuse of power or not depends on whether the requirement goes beyond the social understanding of what is necessary and appropriate.”