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The hell of adult bullying

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“Adult bullying is not going away. It is growing increasingly cruel,” says Tokyo Metropolitan University sociologist Shinji Miyadai in conversation with Spa! (Dec 24). Spa!’s subject is “adult bullying hell.”

The magazine narrates episodes which the reader’s first instinct is to dismiss as exaggerated, if not made up altogether. Then one remembers the grotesque bullying of junior teachers by senior colleagues at Kobe’s Higashisuma Elementary School, which came to light in October after having gone on for a year and a half, and Spa!’s stories seem less implausible. Miyadai’s analysis provides further authentication.

Still, doubts remain. If the stories are true, and if they describe not just a few very extreme cases but conditions under which many Japanese employees are compelled to work, then “hell” is a fair description. “Slavery” would be another.

Here is Spa!’s “Case 1.” Upon graduation, “Megumi Ito” (a pseudonym) entered a company that makes office equipment. That was four years ago. She was 22. From very early on, it seems, she had two persecutors. One was a cleaning lady in her 70s. Another was a part-time employee in her 50s. Somehow they took a dislike to her. We’re not told why. Jealousy of her youth and full-time status? That’s just a guess. The cleaning lady would splash water from the toilet onto Ito’s bento. She came down with norovirus five times before discovering the cause.

The part-timer was openly vicious. “She’d scream at me, kick me, spread filthy stories about me: ‘I see the slut meeting men at the train station and going to hotels with them.’”

Why would she bear this in silence for so long? One reason given is that the cleaning lady was the boss’ neighbor, which apparently – in the victim’s mind at least – afforded her a measure of protection. At last she roused herself to action. She collected evidence –photographs, recordings – which she submitted to head office. Last year, the offenders were fired. But by then Ito was psychologically worn down. She quit. Whatever she’s doing now, hopefully she’s happier.

“Case 2:” “Katsuya Sakamoto,” 37, has made up his mind. He’ll quit “within the year.” If that meant 2019, he may have quit already. He worked for a small printing outfit whose atmosphere he likens to a dictatorship. The dictator is a woman in her 40s who married the boss and more or less seized control of the firm. “If she takes a dislike to you,” he says, “you’re dead.” She disliked him. Again, if there was a reason, we’re not told what it was. Maybe there was none. She issued “absurd” orders, impossible to carry out. Then she’d slander him in front of customers and colleagues: “He’s incompetent, stupid, useless!”

Sakamoto mentions another victim who suffered worse – a forced head-shaving in front of everyone, insults raining down on him. It’s reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

Miyadai, the sociologist, doesn’t comment directly on either of these two “cases,” but confirms the generality that the social ambiance is growing toxic. It’s rooted, he says, in the high economic growth of the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Community ties withered, families splintered, until the individual was either entirely on his or her own or related only to like-minded friends who were more likely to encourage each other’s excesses than to check them.

The rise of the internet offered a new forum for the slander of “outsiders” who threatened one’s security and self-esteem. As automation progresses and artificial intelligence gears up to endanger more and more jobs and raise already-high uncertainty levels to dizzying new heights, the desire to lash out at anyone perceived as vulnerable is more likely to rise, short-term, than to fall, Miyadai fears.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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Nothing is more toxic than Twitter.

Look what happened to JK Rowling last month, she expressed her opinion but got vilified with absolutely ruthless hate speech.

JK Rowling's case is a perfect example of the intolerance that's prevalent among so-called adults in our society.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

To those being bullied. Stand up for yourself and fight these weak, insure, and useless bullies. If not for yourself, do it for the next person in line to be bullied. Don't just quit your job and let the bully move to their next victim. Stand up now, Stand up for the next victim.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

People only have as much control over you as you are willing to allow them. Why is this so hard to grasp?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It's it one thing to stand up for yourself, but at the risk of losing your job? That is an unreasonable expectation. The risk of lawsuits and even jail is just not worth it.

Leaving for a new job is the best option.

Remember, the bully at work usually has the implied permission of the boss.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Bullying is part of Japanese culture and look the history of Japanese society , female are the worst.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

It’s sort of not the individuals fault when there is no individuality. And the MendoKusai mentality means surrounding people, although often aware, don’t get involved.

Collectivism 101, if they can get away with it there is no personal moral compass to stop them, and all you need is two or three weak minded enablers. Easy done.

Speaking up early may be a start though ay, what do you reckon? These types need to be put in their place pronto.

Leaders?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bullying is part of the Japanese culture. It is taught early in Japanese schools and sanctioned by the teachers. Nothing the government can do to stop this since bullying deeply ingrained in the culture. Just look at the effectiveness of trying to get people to stop walking on escalators.

Never let your children into Japanese schools, especially if they are girls. One of my personal friends was tricked by her bully into a rape when she was only in middle school. Of course with the way the Japanese law works, no one was punished and even now my friend often have panic attacks and have to be hospitalized.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I assume that there are no laws that severely punish companies who allow a hostile workplace. Too bad, Japan is a confusing place for me at times.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Miyadai, the sociologist..... confirms the generality that the social ambiance is growing toxic. It’s rooted, he says, in the high economic growth of the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Community ties withered, families splintered, until the individual was either entirely on his or her own.......

The high price of living in an economically successful country.

We need to keep our priorities straight regardless of where we live.

1: Family

2: Community

3: Faith (if that's important to us)

4: Work

Never allow negativity or materialism a foothold our our lives Better to quit a toxic job and suffer financially than to get mentally destroyed.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Burning BushJan. 3 07:14 am JST

Nothing is more toxic than Twitter.

Look what happened to JK Rowling last month, she expressed her opinion but got vilified with absolutely ruthless hate speech.

JK Rowling's case is a perfect example of the intolerance that's prevalent among so-called adults in our society.

If a person expresses a repugnant and discriminatory opinion and get called out for it, that is not bullying.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia - we are not in any way obligated to tolerate intolerance.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The cleaning lady was putting toilet water on her bento!? What kind of country is this!

Seriously, does bullying happen to any similar extent in other countries?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The cleaning lady was putting toilet water on her bento!? What kind of country is this!

It's a country in which one female out of approximately 60,000,000 sprinkles toilet water on the lunches of people she doesn't like. Your point?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Internet and, most importantly, social media, is the biggest and most hurtful way to hurt, insult, and bully anyone, adult or not.

We've seen the death of Korean artists, at the peak of their youth, and that's just one example.

In the comfort of being behind a screen, bullies unleash insults that only the saying "a tongue has no bones, but bones it can break" justifies.

My point, "bullying culture" has seen an alarming increase the past 2 decades, it's not just a Japan thing. We shouldn't be generalising by saying that "bullying is 'deeply ingrained' part of the J-culture, therefore everyone is one", but rather, try to find, as humanity as a whole, a way to make it disappear. We live in a "globalised culture" world, where individual cultures are now preserved and maintained but not the main focus of a country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, it is happening. In japan ,adult bullying is still happening, from stealing people's hard work, to tell lies to get ahead. These actions seems very normal for kyoto and kagoshima borned people. I have personally met 2 of each kind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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