Quarter of workers in Japan experience ‘power harassment’


In the past three years, 1 in 4 workers in Japan experienced “power harassment,” a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey revealed Wednesday, suggesting workplaces with employee of unequal status and management-labor communications shortcomings may be aggravating the problem.

The ministry defines power harassment as behavior that takes advantage of superiority in the workplace to cause fellow workers physical pain or emotional distress.

The survey found that 25.3 percent of workers have suffered power harassment. The poll was conducted between July and September on 9,000 workers and 4,580 companies with 30 or more employees.

It also showed that 45.2 percent of the surveyed companies had had the issue raised by employees in the past three years and 32.0 percent had recognized power harassment cases.

The ministry said many workers tend to refrain from taking action to solve their problems partly because they are concerned that raising the issue could negatively affect their job performance evaluations.

Of the workers who said they had experienced power harassment, 55.6 percent said they suffered psychological damage through insulting and offensive remarks, 28.7 percent cited excessive demands and 24.7 percent said they were isolated from fellow workers.

Of the surveyed companies, 51.1 percent said power harassment occurred at workplaces where communication between bosses and subordinates was lacking and 21.9 percent cited workplaces that have workers of unequal status, including regular and nonregular workers.

The proportion of companies with measures in place to prevent and resolve power harassment cases stood at 45.4 percent. The proportion was low at 18.2 percent among companies with fewer than 100 employees.