#KuToo movement: Japan's battle over high heels

Ms Yumi Ishikawa, the figurehead of Japan's #KuToo movement, presented Health Minister Takumi Nemoto with a petition of 21,000 signatures last week, calling for a ban on high-heel stipulations by employers. The movement's name is a triple pun on the
Ms Yumi Ishikawa, the figurehead of Japan's #KuToo movement, presented Health Minister Takumi Nemoto with a petition of 21,000 signatures last week, calling for a ban on high-heel stipulations by employers. The movement's name is a triple pun on the Japanese word for shoes, the word for pain, and #MeToo.PHOTO: REUTERS

Six years into Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's quest to make Japan a society where "all women shine", there must - surely - be ways for his Health and Labour Minister to enter a debate on women's footwear without sounding like an ossified, tin-eared stooge of the patriarchy.

Mr Takumi Nemoto could easily have made the whole thing about health. When asked in Parliament last week about demands for a ban on employers requiring female staff to wear high heels, he could easily have said something like: "The private sector must have the right to set its own dress policy, but should design their policies to preserve both physical and mental health at all costs."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2019, with the headline '#KuToo movement: Japan's battle over high heels'. Subscribe