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Japanese women boycott obligated Valentine’s chocolates

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The practice of “obligation chocolates” has come under fire as givers feel it has led to undue pressure.

On Valentine’s Day, many people express their affection for their romantic interest or partner with a box of chocolates. Some are kind enough to give chocolates or small gifts to their friends and family, but most of them are given out of courtesy.

Interestingly, in Japan, women are supposed to give chocolates not only to their loved ones, but also to their male co-workers on Valentine’s Day.

This practice of giri choco, or “obligation chocolates”, which emerged in Japan in the 1950s, has now come under fire as givers feel the ritual has led to undue pressure.

A growing number of workers have expressed anger towards having to spend thousands of yens on chocolates for their workmates, and have decided to pull away from the practice.

In fact, some firms are banning the tradition as many workers view this custom as an abuse of power and harassment, according to the Independent.

Instead, more than 60% of Japanese women will buy chocolates for themselves on Valentine’s Day this year. More than 56% said they would give chocolates to family members, while only 35% said they planned to hand out chocolates to their male colleagues.

Last year, Belgian chocolatier Godiva led the charge against giri choco by running a full page newspaper ad urging managers to tell their female employees not to give out chocolates at work if they didn’t want to.

“Valentine’s Day is a day when people convey their true feelings, not co-ordinate relationships at work,” the ad said.

Workplace culture and gender equality have become great concerns in Japan, even more so since the global #MeToo movement. According to the Independent, Japan ranks bottom of the G7 countries on female representation in politics and business. Last year, several medical universities admitted altering entrance exam scores of female applicants to deliberately curb their enrolment.

The story was first reported by Independent.

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