#KuToo Movement in Japan Against Dress Codes Requiring Women to Wear Heels

The hashtag #KuToo on Twitter has people in Japan calling for a change in dress codes, pushing back against inequality for women in the workplace. 32-year old model and actress, Yumi Ishikawa started a similar ripple of #MeToo movement, a clever combination of words kutsu (shoes) and kutsuu (pain)in February.

While both men and women in Japan are required to wear suits for shuukatsu (job hunting), heels are mandatory for working women in Japan as flats are often frowned upon. Ishikawa launched an online petition on change.org, calling on the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to forbid employers from requiring women to wear heels. Her petition has gathered more than 14,000 signatures and many women began posting photos of bruises and blisters, tweeting about their discomfort and pain wearing high-heeled shoes.

“I want to get rid of social climate which women are required to wear heels and pumps. When I was a college student I had a part-time job, staying overnight at a hotel for a month. My feet were hurt from the pumps I was wearing, and I eventually ended up quitting the school. Why do we have to work while hurting our feet, when men get to wear flats?” Ishikawa wrote.

Johnson & Johnson has made an announcement that they allow job-seekers to not wear heels, and created a hashtag #スニ活 (#SuniKatsu, shortened for ‘sneaker job-hunting) to encourage job-hunting students to wear sneakers. They have suggested job-hunting outfits incorporating sneakers while maintaining the formal look on their website.