Almost a Third of Japanese Women Sexually Harassed at Work

Almost a third of Japanese women have been sexually harassed at work, according to a recently released extensive government report in Japan ahead of the prime minister’s target to fill 30% of leadership positions with women by 2020 – an aim many experts believe is unattainable.

The survey, the first of its kind conducted by the labor ministry, received about 9,700 valid responses by mail and online from working women 25 to 44 years old. Overall, 29% said they had suffered sexual harassment.

Common forms of harassment included inappropriate touching, comments on the women’s age or appearance and being asked or pressed to have a sexual relationship, the survey revealed.

It found 17 per cent had been “asked or pressed to have a sexual relationship” and 28 per cent had been asked persistently to go on dates.

Women also reported being subject to excessive questions about their private life, such as their marital status and children, with 37 per cent saying they were harassed in this way.

A little more than half of those who reported facing harassment said they had their looks, age and physical features mentioned inappropriately, making it the most common form of harassment.

A quarter of participants said the harassment had been carried out by their immediate supervisor.

However the study also found that of those who experienced harassment, only 10% had protested to the perpetrator. Nearly two-thirds said they didn’t take any action at all. Less than 60% of about 1,700 employers surveyed offered preventive measures such as consultation services and many had been demoted for raising the issue.

The survey found that just over a fifth of full-time employees were also subjected to ‘maternity harassment’.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has previously attempted to make it easier for women to enter and remain in the country’s work force, and brought in almost one million more women into work over a period of a few years.

Although Japan performs poorly in international gender equality comparisons. In the World Economic Forum’s 2015 global gender gap index, it ranked 101st out of 145 countries.

Parliament has also encouraged companies to hire and promote more women. Last year it passed legislation that requires large organisations to set numerical targets for the percentages of women hired and those promoted to management positions.

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Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

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