National

Government to make senior officials take courses on sexual harassment

Kyodo

The government will oblige senior officials to take courses aimed at preventing sexual harassment following a series of scandals involving alleged improper behavior by high-ranking bureaucrats, a government source said Wednesday.

Newly promoted senior officials are currently subject to such instruction, but the recent scandals have prompted the government to expand the courses to include those who have already taken up directorship posts or above before the program was introduced, the source said.

The Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, which oversees personnel matters concerning high-ranking officials, will check whether the courses have been attended, effectively making participation a precondition for promotion.

The government will also start a consultation service to enable people not working for the government to report harassment by bureaucrats.

The move comes after Junichi Fukuda resigned as vice finance minister — considered the most powerful bureaucratic post in the country — for alledgedly having sexually harassed a female reporter. While Fukuda has denied the allegation, the Finance Ministry accepted the harassment claim following a probe.

Among other cases, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it had suspended Tadaatsu Mori, director of the Russian affairs section, from work for nine months. The ministry declined to give details of the circumstances around the disciplinary action, but government sources said Mori is alleged to have sexually harassed a woman.

A set of further countermeasures will be agreed to next week by a government panel headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Seiko Noda, minister in charge of women’s empowerment, has proposed introducing legislation to punish those responsible for sexual harassment. But the source said the government will take some time before making a decision whether to introduce such a bill.