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WWD Japan

Japanese store is ‘rethinking’ policy that identifies staff on their period

TextAlex Peters

The voluntary policy saw employees wear badges with popular cartoon character Miss Period

A department store in Japan where staff could wear badges to indicate they were on their periods has said it is ‘rethinking’ the policy.

The badges, which were voluntary and featured cartoon character Seiri-chan also known as Miss Period, were introduced in October after a suggestion from the employees themselves. Management at the Daimaru Umeda store in Osaka said the policy was intended to encourage empathy and indicate that those wearing them might need extra help or longer breaks. 

The badges were linked to the opening of a new section of the store devoted to “women’s wellbeing” that opened last week (November 22). Products sold in the section include menstrual cups, lingerie, traditional Chinese medicine, cosmetics, and skincare. “It was never the intention to share the menstrual information with their customers,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

However, after the new policy was announced to the media, some news outlets reported, incorrectly, that the badges were there to let customers know when an employee was on their period. And one unnamed executive at the store told local media that they had received “many complaints” from the public including some that “concerned harassment.” 

On the other hand, Daimaru spokeswoman Yoko Higuchi told the BBC that customers had also phoned in with their support and some staff were very positive about the policy. “If you saw a colleague was having her period, you could offer to carry heavy things for her, or suggest she takes longer breaks, and this support would be mutual.”

Conversations around menstruation are largely taboo in Japan, but characters like Miss Period are helping to open conversations about it. Miss Period, a large heart-shaped pink mascot, became popular from a comic series by Ken Koyama called “Little Miss P.”

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