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Japanese Health and Labor Minister Takumi Nemoto said Wednesday that it is "generally accepted by society" and "necessary" for companies to enforce dress codes that require female employees to wear high heels at work, according to Kyodo News.
Nemoto's remarks come amid a growing movement in Japan calling for the end of such dress code requirements. The minister, according to the report, was rebutting comments from opposition lawmaker Kanako Otsuji that forcing women to wear high heels is "outdated."
"It's abuse of power if a worker with a hurt foot is forced (to wear high heels)," Otsuji reiterated, according to Kyodo News.
That back and forth came after a petition with 18,800 signatures was submitted to the labor ministry demanding the government to ban companies from demanding that women wear high heels to work, Kyodo reported, adding that the petition pointed to health and other issues.
The petition was submitted by a group working against gender-based workplace discrimination. The request is part of a high profile campaign spearheaded by actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa. She launched the petition after being forced to wear high heels while working at a funeral parlor and has since become a leading voice of the the movement.
The petition has gained significant traction on social media and incited a trending hashtag #KuToo, mirroring the global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse. The hashtag is a play on Japanese words for shoes, "kutsu," and for pain, "kutsuu."