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#KuToo: Thousands Of Japanese Women Sign Anti-Heels Petition

Japanese women are digging their heels in, protesting workplace rules that force them to wear heels in the office.

Close to 19,000 people have signed a petition calling for flats to be accepted as office attire.

Yumi Ishikawa is behind the push. The actor, writer and feminist handed the petition to Japan's Labour Minister on Monday.

She works part-time in a funeral home where wearing heels is a condition of her employment.

Ishikawa labelled pumps a "burden", explaining they hurt her feet and made it "difficult to move on the job".

"I hope this campaign will change the social norm so that it won't be considered bad manners when women wear flat shoes like men," she wrote on the Change.org petition.

She explained that the term #KuToo, which is picking up traction on social media and strengthening the movement, is a combination of 'shoes', 'pain' and '#MeToo'.

Photo: Yumi Ishikawa via Twitter

It's not the first campaign to change work dress codes.

U.K. receptionist Nicola Thorp launched a petition in 2016 after she was sent home from work on her first day at corporate finance company PWC, for refusing to wear heels. More than 150,000 people signed.

The case prompted an inquiry on workplace dress codes, which reviewed a number of cases where women were forced to wear heels for jobs involving tasks like climbing ladders or carrying heavy luggage.

Changes weren't made across the board.

Julia Roberts walks barefoot upon her arrival at the 'Money Monster' premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival Photo: GETTY

The other high-profile heels protest involved actress Julia Roberts, who went barefoot on Cannes Film Festival red carpet in 2016.

The festival has a strict dress code, and Roberts made her statement a year after a group of women were turned away for arriving in flat shoes.

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The festival's director apologised ,but the event's strict fashion rules didn't change.

As a result, actress Kristen Stewart removed her heels mid-carpet last year.

"If you're not asking guys to wear heels and a dress you cannot ask me either," she told the Hollywood Reporter.