The Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare indicated on Wednesday he was not for the drive against dress codes that required women to wear high heels at work after a public petition was submitted to the government earlier this week.
The anti-high heels petition, endorsed by almost 20,000 people, was presented to the Labour Ministry on Monday by campaigners against gender-based workplace discrimination, citing health and other issues.
“It’s generally accepted by society that (wearing high heels) is necessary and reasonable in workplaces,” Takumi Nemoto said during a Wednesday parliamentary session, according to local news agency Kyodo.
He was responding to Kanako Otsuji, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan MP, who said forcing women to wear high heels at work was “outdated”.
The creator of campaign, 32-year-old actress and model Yumi Ishikawa, incidentally started the online movement in January after tweeting a message in which she recounted her suffering from wearing heels. The tweet received more than 100,000 responses.
The viral message led Ishikawa to create the hashtag #KuToo, a play on the Japanese words “kutsu” (shoe) and “kutsuu” (pain), and a reference to the global #MeToo movement.
The petition that coincides with the start of the labour recruitment season in Japan, during which many job seekers wear high heels, has received more than 18,856 signatures.
In many Japanese companies and public bodies, rules of etiquette or internal regulations require male workers to wear dark suits and shoes, and skirts and heels in the case of female employees.