National / Social Issues

Over 60% of women see rules on heels enforced at work, study finds

Kyodo

More than 60 percent of women in Japan have experienced the enforcement of rules requiring them to wear heels in the workplace or while job-hunting, or have witnessed others being forced to wear them, according to a survey conducted by a Japanese business website that reported the findings to a Diet discussion on Tuesday.

The survey was conducted by Business Insider Japan, which questioned 207 individuals about workplace dress codes, including 184 women. More than 80 percent of the female respondents said they had suffered health problems as a result of wearing heels, while a quarter were informed during seminars on workplace behavior that wearing them was considered basic etiquette.

Discussions were held Tuesday between a group fighting the enforcement of rules on wearing heels in the workplace, members of the labor ministry and other organizations as well as lawmakers. They exchanged viewpoints on confronting and eliminating gender-based workplace discrimination.

“I believe we’ve realized that some of the social conventions we take for granted are wrong,” said Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan member Kanako Otsuji.

“Let’s raise our voices together. Change will not occur if we remain silent,” she continued.

Tuesday’s talks came after Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Takumi Nemoto said he would not support a drive to ban dress codes that force women to wear high heels at work, citing how the shoes were “generally accepted by society” as “necessary and reasonable.”

He made the comments in reaction to a petition — signed by over 18,800 people — submitted to his ministry on June 3. It called for the government to ban companies from requiring women to wear high heels in the workplace, citing health and other issues.

The group that attended Tuesday’s meeting is part of the #KuToo movement — an amalgam of “#MeToo” and the Japanese words for shoes, “kutsu,” and pain, “kutsū.”

A member of the International Labor Organization echoed Otsuji’s remarks, saying, “The reason why women have been told to wear heels despite their suffering is because men, who have been at the top of management for decades, were the ones who established normal social conventions.”

“If something is wrong with the norms that we follow, then the law is there to change it,” he said.