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Japanese women blindsided by workplace glasses ban

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With the office dress codes tending towards giving employees greater flexibility in their workplace deportment, one country that appears to be bucking that trend is Japan.

According to a Japanese TV show aired earlier this year, there is an unofficial policy in many Japanese organisations to impose a ban on female employees wearing spectacles in the workplace.

This has not gone down well with the country’s women. In response, Japanese female office workers are taking to social media and are demanding the right to wear glasses in the workplace.

The hashtag ‘glasses are forbidden’ has been trending on Twitter in response to draconian dress code measure reportedly being undertaken by many Japanese companies.

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One Twitter user said that companies preferred that women in the workplace avoid wearing glasses because it gave a “cold impression, while another described the reasons given by employers as “idiotic”.

One female employee in a restaurant in Japan tweeted that she was frequently told not to wear her spectacles because it would appear “rude” and they did not match her traditional kimono.

Also read: Virgin Atlantic updates female dress codes

“If the rules prohibit only women from wearing glasses, this is a discrimination against women,” Kanae Doi, the Japan director at Human Rights Watch, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last week, it was reported in The Guardian.

According to Kumiko Nemoto, a professor of sociology at Kyoto University, there is a backlash in Japan to these “outdated” policies.

“The reasons why women are not supposed to wear glasses really don’t make sense. It’s all about gender. It’s pretty discriminatory,” Nemoto told the BBC.

“It’s not about how women do their work. The company values the women’s appearance as being feminine and that’s opposite to someone who wears glasses,” she added.

The discussion follows on from recent workplace controversy in Japan over high heels.

Actor Yumi Ishikawa launched a petition calling for Japan to end dress codes after being forced to wear high heels while she was employed at a funeral parlour. The movement attracted a stream of support and a strong social media following.

According to the latest global gender gap report by the World Economic Forum, Japan was ranked 110 out of 149 countries – well behind other developed countries.

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