More than 18 percent of women working for the Self-Defense Forces or other Defense Agency organizations have been forced to engage in sexual relationships with male bosses or colleagues, according to a National Personnel Authority survey released Thursday.

The Survey on Sexual Harassment among Defense Agency Personnel was conducted between April and June last year. Surveyed were 989 male and 975 female SDF and other agency staffers, the agency’s Personnel Bureau officials said.

In the survey, 18.7 percent of the female respondents said they had been forced to have a “sexual relationship” with men at their place of work, and 96.9 percent of them regarded such relationships as sexual harassment. That were not asked to elaborate on the definition of a “sexual relationship.”

The agency officials maintain that the ratio is not so high compared with a separate personnel authority survey conducted last March, in which 17 percent of women working at other Japanese governmental ministries responded in kind to the same question.

An SDF officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the vaguely termed “sexual relationship” may have caused misunderstanding among the female respondents. “I think the figure included experiences of some women who were probably so sensitive that they thought it was a sexual relationship when a drunk colleague touched their shoulder or something,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, 7.4 percent of the female respondents answered that they had been raped or encountered rape attempts by their male colleagues, according to the survey. The agency officials admit that preventive measures are urgently needed against such troubles but that they have not yet come up with effective ideas.

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