What is "Power Harassment"? Empowering Change: Addressing Workplace Harassment in Japan

What is "Power Harassment"? Empowering Change: Addressing Workplace Harassment in Japan

harassment culture in Japan

operating business in Japan?

Are you operating business in Japan?

Are you employing Japanese and getting a report of "harassment"?

Or are you employed in Japan and feeling uncomfortable/harassed?


You may have a case of harassment in Japan.


Around us, we have heard of so many cases of harassments. Sometimes the boss is bullying.  


In the modern global business landscape, cultural diversity is a strength, fostering innovation, creativity, and collaboration. However, it also brings unique challenges, especially when it comes to understanding and addressing sensitive issues such as workplace harassment. For many foreign corporations operating in Japan, navigating the nuances of Japanese workplace culture can be a daunting task, particularly in the face of harassment-related challenges.


To bridge this gap and empower organizations to foster a respectful and inclusive work environment, we proudly present our upcoming Anti-Harassment Seminar in Japan. We have trainers specialized in anti-harassment most of who are working full time in corporations.


Understanding the Challenge: Harassment in Japanese Workplace


Japan, known for its rich heritage and strong work ethic, has a unique corporate culture deeply rooted in tradition. However, this culture can sometimes inadvertently perpetuate harassment, making it difficult for foreign corporations to recognize and address the problem effectively. Harassment can manifest in various forms, such as verbal abuse, discriminatory behavior, or unwanted advances, causing significant distress among employees and hindering productivity.


Many of our foreign clients came up to us and asked what "power harassment" is, why so many reports about the harassment in their office? 


Our Solution: Anti-Harassment Seminar in English


Recognizing the urgent need for change, our seminar aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of harassment issues specific to Japan’s workplace dynamics. Conducted in English, the seminar offers a safe and inclusive environment for participants from diverse backgrounds to learn, share experiences, and strategize effective solutions. Our expert facilitators, well-versed in both Japanese and international workplace cultures, will guide attendees through:


1. Cultural Sensitivity Training: Understanding the subtle nuances of Japanese workplace culture and etiquette to identify potential harassment triggers.


2. Legal Framework: Exploring Japanese employment laws and regulations related to harassment, ensuring organizations are well-informed and compliant.


3. Effective Communication: Teaching practical communication strategies to promote respectful interactions and prevent misunderstandings that can lead to harassment.


4. Creating Inclusive Workspaces: Providing actionable insights into fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace, promoting a harmonious environment for all employees.


5. Conflict Resolution: Equipping participants with conflict resolution techniques to address harassment incidents promptly and effectively, promoting a healthier workplace atmosphere.


Why Attend Our Seminar?


By attending our Anti-Harassment Seminar, participants will:

- Gain in-depth knowledge about harassment issues specific to the Japanese workplace.

- Develop practical skills to identify, prevent, and address harassment effectively.

- Foster a workplace culture based on mutual respect, understanding, and inclusivity.

- Ensure compliance with Japanese employment laws, mitigating legal risks for the organization.

- Promote employee well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity by creating a safe working environment.


Join Us in Fostering Change


Together, let’s foster a workplace culture where every individual is respected, valued, and empowered. Our Anti-Harassment Seminar provides a vital platform for organizations to address the challenges they face in Japan's corporate landscape. By attending, you are not only investing in the well-being of your employees but also contributing to a broader societal change. Join us in creating workplaces where everyone can thrive.



For more information and to craft the seminar and systems in corporation such as a whistle blower system, please contact us.


Together, let’s build a future free from harassment (this must be impossible to achieve. Yet, possible to set up some systems in the office where everyone shares the same understandings what constitute what "harassment" and can speak up before getting serious), where diversity and inclusivity reign supreme.

Japan PM Mr Kishida trying to "brighten up" the society.

"power harassment" in Japan

never heard of Power harassment? its office bullying. but not so simple...

So what is "power harassment" in Japan?


Power Harassment in Japan: Understanding the Concept


Power harassment, known as "pawā hārassumento or Pawa-Hara" in Japanese, refers to a form of harassment where individuals misuse their power or authority in the workplace to intimidate, bully, or victimize others. It can take various forms, including verbal abuse, humiliation, excessive monitoring, unfair treatment, or isolation. Power harassment can have severe consequences on the victim's mental and physical well-being, leading to stress, anxiety, and reduced productivity.


The 2022 Law: Addressing Power Harassment in Japan


In response to the growing concern about workplace harassment, including power harassment, Japan introduced the "Work Style Reform" legislation in 2019, which included provisions specifically addressing power harassment. The law aimed to create a more inclusive and respectful work environment by defining and prohibiting power harassment. The law also established guidelines for employers to prevent and address power harassment within their organizations.


Under the 2022 law, employers are required to take proactive measures to prevent power harassment, including implementing policies and procedures, providing training to employees, and conducting thorough investigations into reported incidents. Employers are also expected to provide support and protection to victims and take disciplinary actions against perpetrators.


Distinguishing Power Harassment from Performance Management: Challenges and Considerations


Distinguishing between power harassment and legitimate performance management can be challenging, as both may involve giving feedback, setting expectations, or providing corrective actions. However, there are key differences that employers should consider:


1. Intent and Motivation: Power harassment involves malicious intent, where the harasser abuses their authority to harm the victim psychologically or emotionally. In contrast, performance management is conducted with the intention of improving the employee's skills and productivity for the benefit of the organization.


2. Consistency and Fairness: Performance management is applied consistently to all employees based on objective criteria, job responsibilities, and organizational goals. Power harassment, on the other hand, is arbitrary and unfair, targeting specific individuals without valid reasons.


3. Documentation and Transparency: Performance management processes are well-documented, transparent, and communicated clearly to the employee. In cases of power harassment, there is often a lack of transparency, and the victim may feel targeted without understanding the reasons behind the mistreatment.


4. Impact on the Victim: Power harassment has a severe negative impact on the victim's mental and physical well-being, often leading to stress, anxiety, and decreased job satisfaction. Performance management, when conducted appropriately, should motivate employees to improve their skills and performance without causing emotional distress.


Employers need to strike a balance between ensuring performance standards are met and preventing power harassment. Proper training, clear communication, and a supportive work environment are essential in navigating this delicate balance.


In summary, the 2022 law in Japan provides a legal framework to address power harassment, emphasizing the importance of prevention, awareness, and support for victims. Differentiating between power harassment and performance management requires careful evaluation of the intent, consistency, transparency, and impact on the individuals involved, ensuring a fair and respectful workplace for all employees.


For more information and to craft the seminar and systems in corporation such as a whistle blower system, please contact us.

recent examples of power harassment in Japan (updated 2024)

Tokyo Court Orders Compensation in Ground Self-Defense Force Harassment Case

The government is not free of harassments case and in fact there are many cases. Here is one recent example.


In a lawsuit filed by a former member of the Ground Self-Defense Force against the government, alleging harassment from superiors, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the government must pay 1.5 million JPY in damages. The judgment recognized various actions as constituting harassment, including forcing the soldier, who had gained weight, to write a 10,000-character apology letter, deemed illegal harassment. The plaintiff, who served at the Fuji Base in Shizuoka pref and retired four years ago, claimed compensation for harassment from superiors and colleagues. Despite the government's argument of "legitimate guidance," the court pointed out actions like housing the plaintiff, who had difficulty with his right leg, on the fifth floor without an elevator, as violating safety duties. Additionally, the judge deemed the repeated writing of part of the Self-Defense Forces Act as "excessive guidance," ordering compensation of 1.5 million JPY due to the burden imposed on the plaintiff, potentially impairing his health despite his disability.


Tokyo Disneyland Harassment Case: Compensation Awarded

A world famous company is not far from the harassment risk.


A 40-year-old contract employee at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu City, Chiba Pref, sued Oriental Land Co. (the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea) for 3.3 million JPY in damages, alleging harassment from her supervisor. On March 29, the Chiba District Court ruled, ordering the company to pay 880,000 JPY.


Following the verdict, the woman spoke at a press conference, tearfully pleading for an end to bullying and harassment. She emphasized that her intention was not to destroy dreams but to protect them and urged a reconsideration of why the lawsuit was necessary.


In her lawsuit, the woman, who performed in costume shows, claimed multiple instances of harassment from her supervisor between January 2013 and March 2018.


According to her representative, the ruling acknowledged the company's duty to prevent isolation of employees facing interpersonal issues and ordered compensation of 800,000JPY (plus 80,000JPY for legal fees) for violating its obligation to provide a safe environment.


After three years and eight months of legal proceedings, the woman reiterated that it was not Disney at fault but Oriental Land, which failed to address the work environment.


Her attorney noted that the judgment not only recognized individual wrongdoing but also the company's responsibility for neglecting the plaintiff's illness and worsening the work environment.


Oriental Land's PR Department expressed deep regret that some claims were not accepted and stated that they would examine the judgment carefully and consider their response. They clarified that the remarks deemed as power harassment by the plaintiff were not recognized and apologized for causing concern to guests and supporters.



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