In the Japanese News: #KuToo, the movement to end mandatory high heels in the workplace

I interrupt my normal blog posting schedule to pick up on something which has gained a bit of international attention recently (and happens to have a cool language-related pun).

high-heels-kutoo
High heels are known as ハイヒール but パンプス refers to heeled shoes as well

The #Kutoo movement (read as クツー in Japanese) was started by Yumi Ishikawa, who currently works in the funeral industry. She tweeted about her company having a dress code that stipulated women have to wear heels that are 5-7cm high. As she has to be on her feet all day she found it extremely painful to wear heels. Her tweets gained a lot of support, which led to the creation of the #KuToo movement.

The name KuToo is an amalgamation of two Japanese words, くつ andくつう together with the #MeToo hastag.

靴  (くつ / kutsu)

shoes

苦痛  (くつう / kutsuu)

pain, agony

Seeing the social media response, she then decided to create a petition which has been sent to the Japanese ministry for labour. You can read her full statement on the petition in Japanese here*. At the time of writing, this petition now has over 26,000 signatures!

I’m glad that this movement has gained as much attention as it has, even if the Japanese Labour minister’s responses haven’t been very positive. Sadly, this is a common rule in Japanese companies, as a way of ensuring that women carry themselves in a ‘ladylike’ manner. It is that type of thinking which probably prevails in government and prevents rules like this from being abolished.

The movement has sparked debate in not only in Japan but in many other countries too. The #KuToo movement reminds me of a similar case where a woman was sent home from her job because she refused to wear heels. A petition was sent to parliament but the UK government stopped short of making any legislative changes.

Here’s hoping this campaign can lead to real change for Japanese women 🙂

2 thoughts on “In the Japanese News: #KuToo, the movement to end mandatory high heels in the workplace”

  1. My company doesn’t has the mandatory high heels rule and I sometimes go to work in sport shoes lol

    I guess the hells things is mostly mandatory among サービス業界 like hotel or high end restaurants?

    1. That’s good to hear 🙂 I can’t imagine what it is like for those that are forced to wear heels.

      Yes, I feel like the whole heels thing is seen as part of providing good customer service…which is weird when you think about it!

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