#KuToo Please give women in Japan the choice to wear flat shoes

#KuToo Please give women in Japan the choice to wear flat shoes

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)


署名の発信者 由美子 石川

"Female employees are required to wear heels."

In Japan, many have seen rules rules like this at work, or even suffering from them. I work at a funeral parlor where these rules exist. Lining up my male colleague's flat leather shoes I thought, "I would have been able to work with less burden if I were allowed to wear shoes like these."

My job at a funeral parlor requires a lot of standing and walking around, so I always change into flats and sneakers after work. Heels can cause bunions, and cause my feet to bleed – heels can also cause lower back injury.

These types of painful damages could appear when we get older. They also restrict our movement and we cannot run with them. It's also very hard to walk silently with them when we need to, like in my job.

Nonetheless, women are often required to wear them, because it's perceived as "good manners." On the other hand, it seems it's not bad manners or rude for men not to wear heels. Dress codes like this are based on gender. Why is that?

Is that an example of "good manners" that we really need? Why do people think women wearing flat shoes is rude or "bad manners"?

The tweet I shared this experience with soon went viral with lots of favorites and retweets. A hashtag #KuToo was born soon after that, a clever play on word by a follower who feels the same I do, with "kutsu" = "shoes", "kutsuu" = "pain", and #MeToo.

In Britain, a woman who declined to wear heels got fired on the same day, then she started a petition to ask the government to ban such "outdated and sexist rules". Surprisingly, 100,000 people signed the petition in 3 days. According to Equality Act, requiring women to wear heels should be illegal in Britain. But it seems the regulation wasn't thorough enough in some industries, and the House of Commons had to review the Equality Act soon after the petition was submitted.

The government put this petition on the table and shared a recognition that the requirement was sexual discriminative, and thus against the Equality Act. The government gave an official notice for employers to make working regulations taking gender equality into consideration.

There are countries and states officially prohibiting the requirement of heels at workplaces, such as in Britain, Philipines and Canada.

I would like to point out 2 problems of this requirement.

  1. What we're allowed to wear at workplaces differs depending on our gender, while we have the same job description.
  2. This requirement prioritize "good manners" over our health and efficiency.

▼ What we ask in this petition
We ask the government to issue notifications for employers not to require mandatory heels at work depending on gender. We could work more effectively with less burden and have more choices of jobs with this.

▼ How we will change the situation in Japan
It's very difficult for employees to talk to employers directly. They could be in worse social position at their workplaces or they could be treated unfairly. That is why we are asking the government to issue recommendations for employers not to require only women to wear heels at work.

In that way, we could make our working environment better. We can share our experiences with #KuToo hashtag. We can have discussions with suit companies for new graduates who are selling heels as a symbol of working women. We can ask companies if they really need heels for their job and the reason for it.

I wish this campaign becomes a trigger to raise a question to our society, that if we really need the rules. Of course we protect the rights of heel-lovers to keep wearing them. We should also protect the rights of men to wear heels when they want to. There's no reason why only women can wear them.

Our goal is to make the society real, where men and women can have the same choices, where everyone can enjoy working with less burden. Why don't we achieve this goal together by reconsidering unreasonable manners? I'm waiting for your support, regardless of your gender!

We have lots of tweets with #KuToo hashtag.


The Guardian:
#KuToo: Japanese women submit anti-high heels petition

High heels at work are necessary, says Japan's labour ministe

BBC News:
Thousands back Japan high heels campaign

#KuToo instigator sees brands helping to advance the cause

Japan’s #KuToo founder Yumi Ishikawa asks: ‘Is it bad for a feminist to get naked?’



  • Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)