Photo/IllutrationLabor minister Takumi Nemoto at the labor ministry office in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on May 31. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Companies in Japan can require female staff to wear high heels if that's the dress code, the labor minister reaffirmed.

A recent outcry against the policy has found footing in a viral protest, but the tepid response is fanning the flames.

Labor minister Takumi Nemoto said June 5 that private companies can enforce the rule that female employees must wear high- or low-heeled shoes at the workplace.

Nemoto made the comment during a Lower House Health, Labor and Welfare Committee session that day.

"With certain limits, (women) need to wear them in the course of their work," he added.

A protest against the compulsory dress code went viral recently, resulting in a plea, with 18,800 signatures, being submitted to the ministry two days earlier.

Lower House member Kanako Otsuji of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan voiced her objection to the dress code requirement.

But Nemoto countered, saying: "(Some companies) oblige women to wear high- or low-heeled shoes. It is a necessary part of their job and is not inappropriate based on conventional wisdom."

He qualified the statement by saying, "If a company forces an injured woman to wear such shoes unnecessarily, that could constitute power harassment."