WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department expressed concern Friday about sexual harassment in Japan, saying it remained “widespread” in the workplace.
The view was expressed in an annual report on human rights around the world issued two days after a top Finance Ministry official decided to quit over allegations that he sexually harassed a female reporter.
Quoting a health ministry survey in 2016, the State Department said in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 that 30 percent of women in full- and part-time employment reported being sexually harassed at work in Japan.
Aside from sexual harassment, women continued to express concern about unequal treatment in the workplace, with women’s average monthly wage being about 73 percent of that of men in 2016 in Japan, according to the report.
It also said there continued to be cases in Japan of employers forcing pregnant women to leave their jobs.
The report also addressed discrimination against foreign permanent residents in the country, saying that despite legal safeguards some, “including many who were born, raised, and educated in the country, were subjected to various forms of entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities.”
The report continued: “Foreign nationals as well as ‘foreign looking’ citizens reported they were prohibited entry, sometimes by signs reading ‘Japanese Only,’ to privately owned facilities serving the public, including hotels and restaurants.”
The report said that nongovernmental organizations had complained that although such discrimination was “usually open and direct,” the government failed to enforce laws prohibiting such restrictions.
U.S. Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan said the State Department had sharpened its focus on human rights abuses against women, indigenous people and members of religious minorities, among others.
The report covers nearly 200 countries and territories, excluding the United States.