Labor ministry says 25% suffer 'power harassment' at work

TOKYO —

New data released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare this week has revealed that around 25% of workers in Japan suffer “power harassment” at their workplace.

The survey also revealed that a large proportion of workers who believe they are the victims of such harassment are unlikely to report the problem or seek guidance.

The ministry conducted the survey of 4,580 companies with 30 or more employees during the summer, TV Asahi reported. About 25.3% responded that they had been harassed by a superior at work over the last three years, with 45.2% of those saying they had been victimized more than once during that period. However, 46.7% of those individuals decided not to take action in response to the perceived abuse of power.

The ministry concluded that a large number of workers were unable to talk about the harassment or seek a solution. A ministry spokesperson suggested some of the perceived cases of harassment may have been reported by employees who confused mild rebukes and warnings from bosses with actual bullying.

The ministry also said that it is possible employees were afraid of repercussions when it came time for their job performance evaluations.

Japan Today

  • 2

    Ms. Alexander

    Only 25%?! It's gotta be higher!!

  • 3

    saidani

    More unintended consequences from the government-run education system designed specifically to give Japan, Inc. generations of skilled, loyal, obedient, and, apparently, neurotic workers who never question authority. How's that working out in the era of off-shoring and economic decline?

  • 4

    gaijinfo

    A ministry spokesperson suggested some of the perceived cases of harassment may have been reported by employees who confused mild rebukes and warnings from bosses with actual bullying.

    Here, in a nutshell is why this problem will never end, and school kids jump in front of trains and off rooftops to end their pain. Even if they do report it, there's a chance somebody in authority will say something idiotic like this guy.

  • -2

    sakurala

    It is really hard to tell what exactly the harassment entails from this study. I know their is a lot of real harassment out there and it needs to stop. However, we don't know what the extent of the harassment is just from the article. I know some people are a little sensitive when it comes to being criticized (I am too) and they may claim that they are being harassed when it is actually just their manager doing their job. They may not like it, but the managment is there to make sure things get done to the level that they need to be done. If that means reminding someone daily about putting the new coversheets on reports so the job gets done correctly, then so be it.

  • 1

    JA_Cruise

    It is not just Japanese firms, but also foreign capital firms in Japan as well, although these firms may have slightly stricter "harrassment" policies. I think some may also not understand the definition of it, because just because you have a mean manager doesn't construe power harassment.

  • 4

    japan_cynic

    "power harassment" is basically a meaningless term. That's not to deny there is plenty of workplace bullying.

  • 0

    Nessie

    I work with a doctor who needed cell lines from a colleague in China. The parcel post had bollixed the order, and he wanted to be sure.

    I asked him why he didn't just send a grad student. I told him, "That's what they're there for, and he or she would probably enjoy the trip, right." He told me his available grad student was a women, so he might get in trouble for it. The doctor is the #2 guy in the department and he ended up having to fly to China on this errand.

    It's hard to find a balance between sensible protections and political over-correctness. Or maybe he just wanted to get away from the wife and kids.

  • 4

    Disillusioned

    But, if you have ever worked for a Japanese company and know about Japanese labor law the way all business are structured support this kind of 'power harassment' AKA, BULLYING! The management are almighty and the underlings have no recourse to disagree with any directives given by management. This is even worse for women in the workplace. Nearly every working girl I know is told they have to go to work an hour or two early at least one day a week and clean the office - for free! They are also responsible for coffee and lunch orders, regardless of their position in the company. As for Naoki Average, he can only stand there and nod contently as he bows to his manager's orders. It sort of reminds of the movie Riddick, "Allegiance without doubt!" It should be no surprise that half the population suffer from some form of depression and over half of them have emotional and mental disorders as a result. Power harassment? Necromongering is more like it!

  • 2

    tairitsuiken

    This is what Japanese get for never ever having the guts to speak up. At my place of employment, a foreign company mind you, people say yes, yes and yes, even if they completely disagree. "PawaHara" is much like japan_cynic says, a useless term as it is not really definable and can be pretty much anything.

    Basic problem in Japan is this subservient attitude.

  • 5

    realist

    I am a victim of power harrassment in a Japanese university. I complained to Jinjika, but they did nothing, despite having notices all over the campus saying they were working towards a "Campus free from harassment." i complained twice, and when the time came to extend my contract, it was not extended. So much for thestate of discrimination in Japan. Its bad enough that Japanese people have to suffer from this, but as a gaijin in Japan you just stand a chance.

  • 0

    timeon

    as sakurala said, it's a very delicate borderline. any lazy or poorly performing employee or student will cry power/sexual/academic harassment when the boss scolds him/her. In foreign companies you can fire him/her, same in university (graduate students). in Japan you can't do that easily, so the employee/boss friction is much worse. And of course, there are plenty of cases of real power harassment.

  • 0

    mitoguitarman

    Amazingly, our corporate heads were axed for power harassment. There is hope.

  • 1

    fupayme

    I don't see why this is even a problem

    The corporate world is not sunshine and rainbows, and its full of selfish, backstabbing, sociopaths who only care about number 1

    this is why we have this thing called Freedom of Choice

    If the environment around you is not to your liking, then you can grow some balls, tell your superiors to suck it, and leave for another job

    There you go, problem solved

  • 0

    alliswellinjapan

    Being loudly reprimanded by your boss in front of other colleagues used to be part of everyday life at the office for an average J-salarymen. Many in their 40s and 50s continue to carry this tradition to this day and believe it to be an essential part of training and educating your subordinates, perhaps similar to how corporal punishment is still being used by certain teachers.

  • 2

    Fadamor

    The ministry also said that it is possible employees were afraid of repercussions when it came time for their job performance evaluations.

    It's POSSIBLE?! You think? Fear of repercussions is the reason ANY kind of harassment (work-related, sexual, gang-related) becomes successful.

  • -1

    Open Minded

    Before coming to Japan I had a idillic and very naive view of Japan. But after 2.5 years, I am totally shocked.

    From direct japanese friends' testimony: boss bullying subordinates, husband bullying wives, husband beating wife and children, ... And these are not sporadic cases!

    Police, corporate and justice just denying any reporting, when not adding more pain.

    So much frustration has been built up in this society while praising "harmony".

    Anyone really happy in Japan? Frankly speaking, I doubt.

    Getting pissed and shouting like hell in a microphone in a karaoke will never help to promote a healthy job relationship. I have given up, I have been excluded underground by the group - call it bullying if you wish - , but I do not care... I used to be very social and seeking any opportunities for a nice afterwork party, but never ever in these conditions.

  • -2

    umbrella

    Is anyone happy in Japan?

    No. It's all pretense and play acting. Thus depression and suicides. But it will never change.

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