June 6 (UPI) -- Dress codes by Japanese companies that require women to wear high heels are "occupationally necessary," Tokyo's labor minister said in response to a growing movement to dismiss the mandate.
Takumi Nemoto, Japan's health, labor and welfare minister, answered the growing calls on Wednesday.
"It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate," he said. "Whether the employers' requirement to wear high heels is an abuse of power or not depends on whether the requirement goes beyond the social understanding of what is necessary and appropriate."
Nemoto said the rule would only be "abuse" if an employer tried to make an injured employee wear the shoes.
Critic Kanako Otsuji, a member of the minority Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the dress code rule applies only to women and that wearing high heels in the workplace is outdated.
Nearly 19,000 people in Japan delivered a petition Monday asking the government to ban corporate dress codes that mandate high heels. It was started by actress Yumi Ishikawa under the #KuToo name, a takeoff of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
The moniker is a play off the words kutsu, which means shoes in Japanese, and kutsuu, which means pain.