Flat Earth: Platform schmooze

"Because the heels of the shoes are high, please be careful when you run or go up and down the stairs. Be especially careful when you drink because you can be wobbly. We, the producers, will be happy if you keep these points in mind." Judging by recent events in Japan, where platform shoes are catching on, fashion-conscious young women need to absorb the message. A young office clerk who crashed her car into a concrete pole, killing her passenger, told police she couldn't stop because she was unable to feel the brake pedal. Another victim fell off her six-inch shoes and later died of head injuries.

But despite stumbling down stairs, and tripping over their own feet, the wearers are determined to keep up with the trend. One reason for their popularity, it seems, is the way they put Japan's "office ladies" on an equal footing. "You can't imagine how great it feels to see the world from this height," said a woman who normally is less than 5ft tall. "In the commuter train, the level of my eyes is higher than middle-aged men, who are so arrogant in the office."

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