A controversial topic in Japan sparked heated discussions on social media over the past few days as the hashtag “glasses are forbidden” trended on Twitter in reaction to a Japanese television show that exposed businesses who were imposing bans around dress practices and women in the workplace. 

Women wearing glasses at work has become an emotive subject matter after some firms have told female employees to remove them due to giving off cold impressions. Several local news outlets added that some companies had “banned” eyewear for female employees for various reasons.

Among those outlets reporting on the issue were The Nippon TV network and Business Insider, which looked at how firms in different industries prohibit women from wearing glasses. They included safety reasons for airline workers, or being unable to see make-up clearly for women working in the beauty sector.

Kumiko Nemoto, professor of sociology at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, said people in Japan were reacting to the “outdated” policies and the reasons why women are not supposed to wear glasses really doesn’t make sense. It’s all about gender. It’s pretty discriminatory. “She added that the reports reflected “old, traditional Japanese” thinking. 

The discussion echoes a recent workplace controversy in Japan over high heels.

Earlier this year there was a call for Japanese companies to stop forcing female staff to wear high heels. More than 21,000 people signed an online petition started by a female actor in what has become known as the #KuToo movement.

Japan is still ranked 110 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest global gender gap report, well behind other developed countries.


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