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Japanese Defense Ministry mulls further steps against power harassment as SDF recruiters struggle

JIJI

The Defense Ministry plans to compile a set of measures this summer to prevent power harassment, a senior ministry official said Friday.

The ministry believes existing measures have been ineffective in light of the increasing number of punishments that have been issued for power harassment.

While receiving advice from two outside experts, the ministry will draw up a specific direction for new measures in June. The steps might even include a review of the defense minister’s orders related to the execution of duties, the senior official said.

One of the external advisers is University of Tsukuba professor Ichiyo Matsuzaki, who wrote the book “Crusher Joshi” (“Crusher Bosses”), which analyzes bosses who engage in harassment. The other is Yoshitomo Takahashi, a professor at the same university who is well-versed in issues related to suicide.

In the book, Matsuzaki says diversity in human resources tends to be poor at workplaces where so-called crusher bosses have a strong presence.

The measures taken so far by the ministry include the establishment of a consultation hotline and education against power harassment, but they have failed to produce results.

Cases of power harassment-related penalties at the Defense Ministry and in the Self-Defense Forces rose to 94 in fiscal 2016 and 114 in fiscal 2017, compared with 42 in fiscal 2013.

Apparently behind the increase is the organizational culture at the SDF.

The senior official stressed the need to get rid of such a culture, saying the SDF cannot be truly strong if superiors use power harassment as a tool to control subordinates.

The plan to work out new measures is also believed to reflect the ministry’s eagerness to change the image of the SDF among young people following recent shortfalls in their recruitment goals.