Male office workers at a Tokyo-based telecommunications firm were able to experience simulated menstrual pain on Thursday as part of an initiative aimed at fostering empathy toward female colleagues ahead of International Women's Day.

Employees at EXEO Group participated in a company event during which a Perionoid device, developed in collaboration with researchers from Nara Women's University and startup Osaka Heat Cool, delivered electric signals via pads positioned below the navel to replicate cramping sensations in the lower stomach muscles.

"I couldn't move. It hurt to the point where I couldn't stand," said 26-year-old Masaya Shibasaki, reflecting on his experience with the device.

"I now understand women have to work while fighting this pain every month. It's actually amazing how women can do that. I really respect them," he added.

EXEO Group, with a workforce comprising over 90% males, aims to cultivate a more supportive environment for female peers, particularly regarding menstrual leave.

Companies in Japan are legally required to offer menstrual leave. However, there is no requirement for the time off to be paid and surveys have showed that around half of female workers never take it.

EXEO public relations officer Maki Ogura said, "We hope those who experienced (menstrual pain) today go back to their workplace and speak about how they felt, and spread their understanding."