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4 workplace occurrences that could land you in hot water in Japan

12 Comments
By Krista Rogers, RocketNews24

A Japanese website recently published a list of four commonly occurring behaviors at work which are actually considered to be crimes by Japanese law. The scariest thing is that regardless of where you are in the world, you might have been doing them all along!

Perhaps take a moment to check whether you have explicit permission before doing any of the following four things at your place of employment, or else you could find yourself in a legal mess in the worst case scenario.

Now, we’ve never actually known any employers to press criminal charges for the following workplace occurrences, but it’s probably best to be aware of their legal consequences in any case. Although it may be awkward, the best thing to do is to simply ask your boss whether it’s okay to do something that you’re unsure of in order to avoid any potential negative fallout.

1. Charging your phone at the office

It’s natural to think nothing of plugging your phone into the nearest electrical socket no matter where you are. However, “stealing” electricity at your workplace in this manner could translate into actual Japanese criminal law, since electricity is technically the property of your company. In addition, some companies don’t allow their employees to use personal USB flash drives and the like for fear that a virus could slip through into the network. The school where I taught in Japan had a similar policy, and no one was allowed to bring personal laptops to school for that very reason.

2. Earning personal points on company expenses

Make sure you that know your company’s policy about whether any points, airline mileage or similar rewards accumulated from company expenses are yours to take or not. Since the points are linked to purchases in the name of the company, even if you buy them on behalf of your employer, claiming them for your own without official permission could actually be considered a form of embezzlement.

3. Forwarding other people’s email

This one seems like a no-brainer to us, but always ask for permission when you forward someone else’s email containing personal information to another person. The reason is of course due to protecting everyone’s privacy when such information is encoded in a message. In fact, a 36-year-old systems engineer in Tokyo was arrested back in January of this year for a crime of this nature, so you’d better think twice before sending out that giant invitation unless you BCC everyone at the firm!

4. Drinking alcohol against your will

Abstainers of alcohol and lightweights will be particularly pleased to hear about this one. Official Japanese law actually stipulates that it’s a crime to force employees to drink against their will!

It may come as a surprise to many Japanese workers who quite understandably believe that the future of their jobs depends on “mandatory” nomikai sessions with their higher-ups, but aruhara (“alcohol harassment”) is indeed a thing and there have been cases where victims pressed charges or demanded compensation for damages inflicted after being forced to drink in the event of severe peer pressure. After all, alcohol poisoning is dangerous and definitely not fun, especially if you didn’t even want to drink in the first place.

Remember, asking for explicit permission before doing any the above is the way to go, even if it seems like a pain at the time. A simple question could save you all that legal hassle down the road.

Source: Naver Matome

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12 Comments
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A Japanese website recently published a list of four commonly occurring behaviors at work which are actually considered to be crimes by Japanese law.

For balance, here's 3 more 'crimes' committed by the employer:

1) Some companies expect workers to work more than the 40 hours per week "statutory working hours" without paying them overtime.

2) Not all employers grant employees the required "statutory days off" (at least one day off per week, or four days off in any four-week period).

3) Not all employers allow their employees to take their accrued paid holidays.

If any of these 'crimes' are committed in one's workplace, I say plug your phone charger in and tell the boss to swivel.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

1 happened to me, but not at work. I got on a Yokosuka Line train at Ofuna station, sat down, and plugged my charger into the outlet near my seat. Trouble was, the only other guy in that car was an undercover police officer. He flashed his badge, shook his head, and told me to stop. Of course I expressed my gratitude (for not being arrested) and put away my charger.
3 ( +7 / -4 )

Stay on topic please.

Most people use their phone for company business so I have yet to hear of a company telling employees not to use the outlets to charge phones. If a company did then what would employees do when their phones died? Phones today are used for much more than just calls as they were in the days of the Jphone and flip phones. Now they are used for internet and email for company business as well. This whole article seems outdated.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I use my phone on the job and they expect to be able to contact me when they want. I can't imagine a company so cheap to not allow phone charging as they don't consume much electricity.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm supposed to ask for permission before "drinking alcohol against [my] will"??? This doesn't make any sense

Drinking against your will is not illegal so of course you don't need permission. It's "forcing a fellow employee to drink" that's illegal.

It's the only one on the list that should be obvious, although I think you should always ask before you do something at work you're not supposed sure about.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Remember, asking for explicit permission before doing any the above is the way to go, even if it seems like a pain at the time. A simple question could save you all that legal hassle down the road."

I'm supposed to ask for permission before "drinking alcohol against [my] will"??? This doesn't make any sense.

I used to see high school kids and (mostly foreign) tourists using the outlets in the stairwells of the local "station building" of shops connected to the train station to charge their phones. A couple of years ago the building management installed bright yellow flip up covers over the sockets that warn it's a crime to steal electricity.

I don't understand the mentality that if it's a public area the electricity is for the use of anyone and everyone. If you tapped into your neighbors system and used the power at their expense most people would agree that is theft. Why would you assume differently because it's a company rather than private homeowner paying the bill?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

these things need be enforced is very good public policy and indeed a wisdom to be an integrated person sirs,

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Does anyone understand what point 3 is about? Forwarding an email is not what the 36-year-old systems engineer in Tokyo was arrested for. I can forward a client's email to a colleague without needing permission of the sender. I can't forward it to my wife or my drinking buddies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@jonobugs "Drinking against your will is not illegal so of course you don't need permission. It's "forcing a fellow employee to drink" that's illegal."

Of course. But that's not the way the article is written.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1 happened to me, but not at work. I got on a Yokosuka Line train at Ofuna station, sat down, and plugged my charger into the outlet near my seat. Trouble was, the only other guy in that car was an undercover police officer. He flashed his badge, shook his head, and told me to stop. Of course I expressed my gratitude (for not being arrested) and put away my charger.

That's a cool story. Thanks for sharing :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh my god! Good thing this was posted. Though I don't do any of the above. I either shut off my phone or keep it in my locker, I don't travel and if I do it's out of my own money and I don't do travel points (seems too complicated), I don't even like looking at my email nor writing them. Have no one to talk to. And lastly, I can't drink yet. Too young. In America u must be over 21, and I'm only 19. When I do drink I will only drink at home and it has to be a fruity one. I'm too scared to drink with anyone in any place that's not my home. Not sure if I'll be a good employee for a school. I'm more of a loner, always have been and it's what I'm comfortable.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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