The labor ministry said Monday that companies should be legally required to take steps to prevent so-called power harassment, or abuse of authority at work by superiors against their subordinates.

The ministry made the proposal at a meeting of a subcommittee of the Labor Policy Council, which advises the labor minister. The ministry aims to submit related legislation to the ordinary Diet session starting early next year.

The ministry defines power harassment as behavior by those taking advantage of their superior position in a way that goes beyond the necessities of conducting business and causes physical or psychological pain.

The ministry hopes to require companies to stipulate a ban and penalties on power harassment in their work regulations or other rules, prepare consultation systems and take appropriate follow-up measures.

The ministry also sought a review to the law for securing equal employment opportunities between men and women, in order to strengthen measures against sexual harassment, calling for the prohibition of dismissing employees who come forward with claims of such harassment at work.

The ministry also said guidelines set under the law should clearly stipulate how companies must respond to cases in which workers suffer sexual harassment from clients and other people outside the company.

As for the law to promote greater female participation in the workplace, the ministry aims to expand the scope of companies currently obliged to compile action plans, from those with at least 301 workers to those with 101 or more workers.

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