Male Japanese minister calls women's high heels at work 'necessary'

Hate stilettos? Have pretty much permanently adopted the sneaker trend? Then you're not going to like this.

The BBC reports Japan's Health and Labour Minister, Takumi Nemoto, has defended the country's near-compulsory practice of woman being forced to wear high heels at work, calling the footwear "necessary".

"It is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate," Nemoto reportedly said at a parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday (local time).

The comments came following public support for a campaign started by actor and writer Yumi Ishikawa, calling for discriminatory workplace dress codes to be scrapped.

Ishikawa and a group of fellow Japanese women submitted the petition to the government to protest against what they say is a de facto requirement for many female workers.

The Guardian reports the campaign is called 'KuToo' - a play on words from the Japanese kutsu, meaning shoes, and kutsuu, meaning pain. It's also a reference to the global #MeToo movement against sexual abuse.

Campaigners say the painful practice of wearing heels is near-obligatory when job hunting or working in many Japanese companies.

During the parliamentary session that Nemoto made his controversial comments, lawmaker Kanako Otsuji suggested such rules were "outdated".

New Zealand has much less strict enforcement in workplaces, but it is up to the individual employer to place a dress code within the business.

"Uniforms and dress standards for a job should be agreed between the employer and the employee as part of their employment agreement (or sometimes in workplace policies)," the NZ Government website states.