The first time a court in Japan ruled on the issue of sexual harassment was on Aug. 5, 1989. On that day, in what has become known as the Fukuoka Sexual Harassment Case, the Fukuoka District Court found the individual harasser and the employer responsible for damages.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) had been enacted three years earlier, but awareness of issues affecting women in the workplace was still low in Japan; they were considered "workplace flowers," "seat warmers until marriage," "male workers' assistants" or even "unsold Christmas cakes." The last epithet referred to those whose values as women were said to be plunging because they had not married by age 25 (with Christmas Day being Dec. 25 and all).

The point was that women had no perceived value at the workplace unless they were young and pretty. Many (mostly men) felt women should feel honored and pleased to be sexually harassed, because it was proof they were still seen as attractive. What's more, this was hardly the minority view. So as we delve into this case, keep in mind the way society was back then (not that things have necessarily improved all that much today).