Asia-Pacific News

Japanese department store 'reconsidering' plan for staff to wear menstruation badges

Key Points
  • The so-called "physiology badge" features a cartoon character named Seiri Chan, a symbol of menstruation in the world's third-largest economy.
  • It was hoped that the badges would help foster sympathy among co-workers, with those choosing to wear the pin likely to receive extra help or longer breaks.
  • However, when Daimaru told the media about the policy earlier this month, it prompted a backlash against the store.
Japan Osaka City, Umeda Station.
Prisma by Dukas | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

A woman's health store in Japan is reportedly reviewing a plan for staff to wear badges when they are on their period.

The so-called "physiology badge" features a cartoon character named Seiri Chan, a symbol of menstruation in the world's third-largest economy.

It was hoped that the badges would help foster sympathy among co-workers, with those choosing to wear the pin likely to receive extra help or longer breaks.

However, when Daimaru told the media about the policy earlier this month, it prompted a backlash against the store.

"We received many complaints from the public. Some of them concerned harassment, and that was definitely not our intention. We're reconsidering plans now," a male executive who declined to be named said in a statement, according to The Japan Times.

A spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Friday.

The Daimaru branch at Osaka Umeda first introduced the policy in October, according to Japanese publication WWD. It was brought in for the roughly 500 employees working in the store's women's wardrobe section.

#KuToo

The badges, which were double-sided, were initially brought in after a suggestion from the firm's staff and were linked to the opening of a new section of the department store.

On one side of the badge was Seiri Chan, a cartoon character reportedly known as "Miss Period." On the other side were details of a new section being opened in the store devoted to "women's wellbeing."

Outcry against the policy comes with many cases of workplace harassment in the public spotlight in Japan, amid changing values about gender roles and work-life balance.

Earlier this month, research carried out by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation found that more than one in 10 companies in Japan have formal regulations about the length of heeled shoes female workers must wear.

Actress and writer Yumi Ishikawa had previously launched a petition for discriminatory workplace dress codes to be scrapped, after being made to wear high heels while working at a funeral parlor.

The petition has received tens of thousands of signatures in recent months, with supporters of the campaign often seen tweeting #KuToo.

The slogan, which mirrors the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse, is a play on words from the Japanese kutsu, meaning shoes and kutsuu, meaning pain.

In June, Japan's Health and Labour Minister, Takumi Nemoto, told a legislative committee that it was "necessary and appropriate" for women to wear high heels at work.