Stilettos to the rescue of Japan’s ‘waddling ducks’

’EMPOWERING’ WOMEN: The Japan High Heel Association managing director “Madame” Yumiko, right, gives a lesson on high heels in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 23 June 2016
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Stilettos to the rescue of Japan’s ‘waddling ducks’

TOKYO: Feminists, look away! Fashion police in Japan want to ‘empower’ women by persuading them to wear high heels, insisting the country’s historic ‘kimono culture’ has led to many women having poor posture.
The Japan High Heel Association (JHA) is calling on women across the country to trade sensible shoes for a pair of stilettos, insisting that standing tall will give them ‘confidence’ — and improve their gait.
“Japanese women walk like ducks,” JHA managing director ‘Madame’ Yumiko told AFP in an interview at her plush Tokyo salon.
“They waddle along, pigeon-toed, with their bottoms sticking out as if they’re bursting to use the toilet. It looks ghastly,” she added.
In an apparent bid to improve this situation, the all-female organization charges thousands of dollars for etiquette lessons, including special classes where women are taught to walk correctly, and particularly in high heels.
Critics have branded the idea sexist and laughable, particularly as women are still battling against a deeply ingrained patriarchal culture that once expected them to pace three steps behind men.
Yet the “walking etiquette classes” are proving hugely popular: At JHA students pay 400,000 yen ($3,700) for a six-month course — and so far 4,000 have taken part, while similar lessons and schools are popping up nationwide.
The 48-year-old former ballerina blames the countries sartorial heritage for the posture problem.
“Chinese or Korean ladies don’t have these problems,” she said. “It’s a result of Japan’s kimono culture and shuffling about in straw sandals. It’s ingrained in the way Japanese walk.” “But very few Japanese wear a kimono all day anymore. We should know about Western culture and how to wear heels correctly,” Yumiko added.


Sumatran elephant found dead with missing tusks in Indonesia

Updated 17 November 2018
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Sumatran elephant found dead with missing tusks in Indonesia

  • The cause of death was not immediately clear because the body was badly decomposed
  • At least 11 wild elephants died in Aceh last year, most of them killed by humans

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: A Sumatran elephant has been found dead with its tusks removed in an apparent poaching case targeting the critically endangered animal, an Indonesian conservation official said Friday.
The 10-year-old male’s rotting corpse was found in Blang Awe village in Aceh province earlier this week.
“His tusks were missing and there were traces of blood in the location where he was found,” Aceh conservation center head Sapto Aji Prabowo told AFP.
Officials estimated the animal had been dead for at least a week when the carcass was discovered.
The cause of death was not immediately clear because the body was badly decomposed, Prabowo said.
Tissue samples will be analyzed for signs of poisoning.
Rampant deforestation has reduced the species’ natural habitat and brought them into conflict with humans, while their tusks are prized in the illegal wildlife trade.
At least 11 wild elephants died in Aceh last year, most of them killed by humans.
In July, a Sumatran elephant was found dead from apparent poisoning in a palm oil plantation.
The environment ministry estimates only around 500 Sumatran elephants remain in Aceh.