Japan Data

Survey Finds Harassment a Problem for One in Three Japanese Workers


A recent survey found that 38% of respondents had suffered workplace harassment.

Psychological Abuse Most Common

In a recent survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengō) of 1,000 Japanese employees, 375 reported having been harassed in the workplace.

The most common kinds of harassment reported (multiple responses possible) were: psychological abuse, including threats, defamations of character, humiliation, and abusive language (41.1%); unreasonable demands, including coercion of acts either clearly unrelated to work in hand or else impossible to carry out, and interference with the performance of one’s job (25.9%); and boundary violations, including excessive intrusion into victims’ personal affairs (22.7%).

The most frequent kinds of harassment by perpetrator were: psychological abuse by bosses, including threats, defamations of character, humiliation, and abusive language; being cut off by coworkers, including isolation, ostracism, and being ignored/disregarded; and sexual harassment on the part of clients, customers, and other business associates of an employer.

Victims described the consequences of harassment as: loss of job motivation (53.6%); mental and physical impairments (22.4%); and being driven to change or quit their jobs (18.9%). Workers in their twenties reported leaving employment most frequently due to workplace harassment, accounting for nearly 30% of victims in this category.

Over 80,000 Harassment Complaints Annually

Further evidence of the scope of workplace harassment comes from statistics published in June 2019 by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare on a system of policies and procedures for resolution of individual employee-employer disputes.

The system is intended either to avoid, or to rapidly resolve, conflicts between workers and businesses. According to this publication, an all-time high of 266,535 complaints were filed to the system in fiscal 2018. Of these, 82,797 complaints were in regard to bullying and other abusive behavior, including harassment, making this category of labor-related complaints the single largest such segment for the seventh year in a row.

Harassment on the job is becoming a matter of increasing concern elsewhere in the world as well. The International Labor Organization adopted a new labor standard to combat violence and harassment at work during its June 2019 conference. Although it will face significant obstacles to adoption in Japan, owing primarily to the fact that there are no provisions in Japanese civil law prohibiting workplace harassment, Rengō will call on the Japanese government to ratify it.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © mits/Pixta.)

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