A private-sector survey showed Tuesday that 61.6 percent of freelancers in Japan have experienced work-related power harassment.
Additionally, 36.6 percent said they have faced sexual harassment. Among victims, a female respondent said she was told to come to a hotel room, where she was raped.
The survey was carried out by three organizations related to freelance workers.
They submitted to the labor ministry the survey results and proposals on measures to prevent harassment of freelancers. The survey was conducted online in July and August, with 1,218 people giving valid answers.
Many said they were verbally abused, forced to do extremely difficult work or neglected, or suffered financial punishments, such as cuts in compensation and job contract cancellations.
Among sexual harassment cases, 214 people said they were forcibly asked to have sexual relationships. Sixty-six people were stalked, while 53 people said they were raped. The results suggested that freelance workers, mainly women, are frequently exposed to risks of becoming victims of crime.
A former internet video creator said that she suffered violence 10 years ago from a man doing similar work but in a superior position. But she added that she could not file a criminal complaint against the man, because she believed that her business, launched right before the incident, would fail unless she received cooperation from the man.
As part of their proposals to the labor ministry, the groups called for freelance workers to be covered by mandatory harassment prevention measures taken by companies and for economic abuse to be included in the scope of practices amounting to power harassment.
They also sought the creation of other rules, including a ban that would forbid business meetings from being held at hotel rooms.
The government plans to draw up guidelines against harassment by the end of this year.