Nearly 20,000 women have signed an online petition demanding the government ban companies from requiring female employees to wear high heels on the job - an example of gender discrimination, says Yumi Ishikawa, who started the drive.
“Japan is thickheaded about gender discrimination,” she told Reuters in an interview. “It’s way behind other countries in this regard.”
Japan ranks 110th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender-equality ranking.
“We need people to realize that gender discrimination can show up in lots of small ways,” Ishikawa said, from how women are treated by their bosses to expectations that women will do all the housework and child-rearing even if they work.
In decades past, businessmen were expected to wear neckties, but that has changed since the government started a “cool biz” campaign in 2005 to encourage companies to turn down air-conditioners and reduce electricity use.