The Japanese #KuToo movement has made international headlines for its efforts to draw attention to women being required to wear high heels at work.  

#KuToo is reportedly a play on the Japanese words “kutsu”, meaning shoe, and “kutsuu”, meaning pain.

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It all started with a petition to the Japanese ministry of health, labour and welfare by Yumi Ishikawa, who took to twitter to share her concerns, while inviting signatures.

In her post, Yumi highlighted the issue of men and women who work at the same place, yet have different dress code requirements, with women’s dress criteria being harmful to their health.

Speaking to Bloomberg’s Tic Toc, Yumi says she works part time at a funeral parlour where she is required to wear high-heeled pumps as tall as 5 to 7 centimetres.

Yumi led women in Japan to hand over the signed petition against the sometimes obligatory requirement for women to wear high heels.

After the worldwide media attention to this cause and receiving the petition, the ministry of health, labour and welfare in Japan has since responded.

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According to Reuters, the health minister Takumi Nemoto, says: “I think it’s within the range of what’s commonly accepted as necessary and appropriate in the workplace.”

Nemoto also says an exception would be if employers required a woman who had been injured to wear high heels, which could then be considered “power harassment”.

Reuters reports that the Japanese health ministry has since said it was reviewing the petition, which has amassed more than 20 000 online signatures.

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In an interview with AFP, Yumi 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”.

Unfortunately, Japan’s restrictive dress requirements for women happens to be a universal issue.

W24 previously reported on the dangers of wearing high heels, particularly involuntarily, when Louise Ferreira relayed her experience of injuring her knee while in stilettos, and how more women are sartorially restricted in order to do their job.

Other unfortunate anecdotes include London receptionist Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from PwC for refusing to wear heels and Canadian waitress was told to continue working in heels, her feet bleeding after losing a toenail during her shift.

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