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Japan minister says high heels for women at work is 'necessary'

TOKYO : Japan's Health, Labour and Welfare Minister said in response to a petition seeking a ban on requiring women to wear high heels at work that such dress code expectations are "necessary and appropriate" in the workplace.

Health Minister Takumi Nemoto responded on Wednesday to an online campaign gaining attention in Japan under the hashtag #KuToo, a play on the Japanese words for shoe, "kutsu", and pain, "kutsuu".

The petition, which has collected 21,000 online signatures and is still growing, was submitted on Monday to the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry by Ms Yumi Ishikawa, a 32-year-old funeral parlour worker.

She said on Twitter she was required to wear 5cm to 7cm heels at work, causing her feet to hurt.

Many Japanese companies may not explicitly require female employees to wear high heels but many do so because of tradition and social expectations.

"I think it's within the range of what's commonly accepted as necessary and appropriate in the workplace," Mr Nemoto said, in response to a question from an opposition lawmaker in a parliamentary committee.

However, Mr Nemoto also said it could be considered "power harassment" if employers required women who had been injured to wear high heels. - REUTERS

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