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Shifting gender politics and the coronavirus have combined to spell the possible end of the Japanese Valentine’s Day custom of women giving chocolates to male colleagues.

Traditionally, women are expected to buy gift-wrapped chocolates for the men in their working lives – usually senior colleagues and others who have helped them during the course of the year – as part of a tradition called giri choco, literally obligation chocolates.

The custom is not a one-way street, however: men are supposed to reciprocate a month later on White Day – a marketing ploy dreamed up by chocolate makers in the early 1980s to boost sales.

Growing resistance to the practice – which can involve anything from expensive treats from a chocolatier to budget selections sold in convenience stores and supermarkets – has led to a decline in sales in recent years, as more women object to “forced giving”.

A Valentine’s Day display in Tokyo. Growing resistance to giri choco has led to a decline in chocolate sales in recent years. Photograph: jeremy sutton-hibbert/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Photograph: jeremy sutton-hibbert/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

KPMG’s UK chairman, Bill Michael, has resigned after telling staff to “stop moaning” during a virtual meeting about the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of lockdown on people’s lives.

Michael, who has headed the company since 2017, was speaking at a virtual town hall meeting on Monday with members of the firm’s financial services consulting team when he made the comments.

The 52-year old Australian, who also said that staff should stop “playing the victim card” and described the concept of unconscious bias as being “complete and utter crap for years”, apologised and said on Friday the scandal over his comments had made his position at the accounting giant “untenable”.