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Coronavirus outbreak sparks harassment at workplaces in Japan

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It’s a pity that Japan doesn’t really do ‘anti-discrimination’ very well.

41 ( +47 / -6 )

Nara said her boss shouted for her colleague to stop asking the woman to eat a meal together in early April. She also found out that the same boss had told another colleague to stay away from her.

The boss is merely enforcing Social Distancing.

-16 ( +15 / -31 )

I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask and/or don’t touch their face with unwashed hands when seeing them do it.

I kinda yelled at one dude for sneezing with no mask and not even trying to cover his mouth.

If that is discrimination then sue me!!

I don’t want to get infected cause someone else is disregarding simple manners/ precautions.

24 ( +36 / -12 )

disregarding simple manners

Speaking of simple manners...

3 ( +18 / -15 )

I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask and/or don’t touch their face with unwashed hands when seeing them do it.

I kinda yelled at one dude for sneezing with no mask and not even trying to cover his mouth.

If that is discrimination then sue me!!

It's not discrimination. However, you probably aren't making any friends there.

24 ( +29 / -5 )

A 73-year-old woman working at a manufacturing company in Nara said her boss shouted for her colleague to stop asking the woman to eat a meal together in early April. She also found out that the same boss had told another colleague to stay away from her.

73 year old woman working in a manufacturing company? Damn, there is a hell of a lot more to this than just a boss "shouting" at someone here.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

At least, it is not xenophobia, better than other countries.

-28 ( +7 / -35 )

Disappointed in conduct of people and seems that basic courtesy and understanding is going out the door. Where is the civility we are taught in school for the better good of everyone's life. No manner seems to be winning.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

"I can only think of the novel coronavirus as the reason. I am commuting from Osaka," where the number of infections has been growing, she said.

Keep in mind she's 73 and perhaps her coworkers are much younger.

Maybe the boss has a legitimate concern that she could have died had she contracted the virus from a younger colleague.

We need some real background here. Just seems like vague examples were cherry picked for this article.

14 ( +24 / -10 )

A 73-year-old woman working at a manufacturing company in Nara said her boss shouted for her colleague to stop asking the woman to eat a meal together in early April. She also found out that the same boss had told another colleague to stay away from her.

"I can only think of the novel coronavirus as the reason. I am commuting from Osaka," where the number of infections has been growing, she said.

While the Japanese corporate world is known for being slave drivers and insensitive to worker needs, that doesn't mean every single thing Japanese management does is related to "harassment." A friend told me someone at their place of work was lectured and almost written up for not practicing social distancing in the company cafeteria.

As we have seen around the world, people are selfish and do not want to abide by social distancing and shelter in place orders. We have mass protests against stay at home orders and citizens constantly being fined for ignoring these orders. Sometimes the only way to get the message across to these stubborn folks is to yell at them or punish them. Not everything in life in Japan is based on random harassment and bullying, no matter how some out there wish it to be.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

You read about people in the West writing about their struggles with the virus and letting people know what they went through. Not here! Unless you happen to be a famous person, if you got infected you would want it kept as quite as possible not to be bullied or your family ostracized. That is one thing about Japan I will never understand, blaming the victim.

22 ( +25 / -3 )

> I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask and/or don’t touch their face with unwashed hands when seeing them do it. 

I kinda yelled at one dude for sneezing with no mask and not even trying to cover his mouth. 

If that is discrimination then sue me!! 

I don’t want to get infected cause someone else is disregarding simple manners/ precautions.

if the virus doesn’t get you then a burst blood vessel will....

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Sounds like her boss was trying to save her life.

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

“I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask”

Where are they supposed to buy/find these masks? I haven’t seen masks on shelves in months.

19 ( +23 / -4 )

I went to one vice-principal (who wasn't wearing a mask) and asked him to tell teachers to wear masks, be careful of coughing and sneezing, and maintain social distancing when talking to others. He blew me off. Said he's consult others about it. Nothing changed for a few days. So...I downloaded the 3 "C"s in Japanese (三密) and went to the other vice-principal and asked if I could put them up around school. A few days later, all the heads came out of a meeting and announced that everyone should wear a mask, be careful of coughing and sneezing, and maintain social distancing when talking to others. That first vice-principal began wearing a mask.

Keep persistence up.

12 ( +20 / -8 )

Stress and anxiety levels go through the roof in times of crisis. Some people deal with it better than others. Unfortunately it brings out the worst in many.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

I went to one vice-principal (who wasn't wearing a mask) and asked him to tell teachers to wear masks, be careful of coughing and sneezing, and maintain social distancing when talking to others. He blew me off. Said he's consult others about it. Nothing changed for a few days. So...I downloaded the 3 "C"s in Japanese (三密) and went to the other vice-principal and asked if I could put them up around school. A few days later, all the heads came out of a meeting and announced that everyone should wear a mask, be careful of coughing and sneezing, and maintain social distancing when talking to others. That first vice-principal began wearing a mask.

What the heck are you doing in school in the first place?

14 ( +18 / -4 )

I kinda yelled at one dude for sneezing with no mask and not even trying to cover his mouth.

There are always a few in every office unfortunately, and now is the time to start yelling at them.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

lol, This poster is going around yelling at people to wear masks, who probably like the rest of the working population can't wait in line outside the drugstore for 2 hours because, well they have to be at work.

You can easily make a cloth mask at home. While it may not be the most effective, it does have some benefits. A 10 second search on google will provide a sufficient number of reference points and how-to-make tutorials.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Sparks harassment? How about, increases harassment?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

That is one thing about Japan I will never understand, blaming the victim.

Indeed. It's not only a phenomenon in Japan, but they may have perfected it. Burakumin. Hiroshima. Fukushima. Now COVID-19.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

@Markx

I totally agree, my daughters at the age where she thinks it right to point out everything that’s “wrong”. I’m trying to teach her the difference between being helpful and being a grass. integrity is hard to find sometimes.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

What the heck are you doing in school in the first place?

While I agree with you, I'm a tenured teacher who must follow the directions of those above me. They have reduced the number of days we must come in and the number of hours when we do, but you know, Japan still has a hard time giving up the belief that work must be done at the work place. And they still feel the need to micro-manage everyone.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

Fujino also urged people working at home to be more careful about their choice of words when communicating online.

"People need to be aware that it is hard to communicate their feelings (online) and be respectful of the feelings of people on the other end," she said.

Shouldn’t we always be careful when choosing I words, whether online or in person?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Why are victims decided so much in japan? No wonder people don't want to get tested. This is madness!!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

a persistent view among people that individuals become infected with the virus because of their own fault.

This is definitely cultural and based on ignorance schools should work toward conquering.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

As coronavirus fears grip Japan, labor unions are receiving a growing number of reports from people who have faced discrimination at the hands of their bosses and harassment by customers frustrated with merchandise shortages.

A 73-year-old woman working at a manufacturing company in Nara said her boss shouted for her colleague to stop asking the woman to eat a meal together in early April. She also found out that the same boss had told another colleague to stay away from her.

"I can only think of the novel coronavirus as the reason. I am commuting from Osaka," where the number of infections has been growing, she said.

I know Japanese are said to be "non-confrontational" but after the confrontation maybe she could have tried to find out why the boss said that instead of speculating and calling it harassment. Did the boss tell it to everyone or just those two people and is he avoiding her too? Who 'forced' her to stop eating at the workplace? Without any real information, she kind of comes off as a delusional old woman in my opinion and maybe there's a lot more going on than she's saying.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's getting nasty. I think it's going to get nastier.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@Burning Bush - boss was’ enforcing social distancing’

harrassment victimization bullying - simple

so pack commuters into trains like human sardines, but then enforce social distancing in the office - ok I’m convinced

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Doesn't seem like harassment to me. Seems like a boss protecting his ignorant employees.

At my office there is a nice guy who opens a big bag of potato chips and goes around to each person for them to take some. I have been refusing since the start of the year. But he did it as recently as two weeks ago. The pinnacle of moronic.

And | was the only one who refused...

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Before Japanese people weren't taking it too seriously, now some are going overboard...

Why does Japan never find a balance when dealing with problems? It's ignored until it's too late then everyone panics

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A 73 year old women is informed, she should not be asking 'others' to eat lunch with her - which, the little information provided, indicates she is not practicing social distancing. Apparently, it is not a single incident. Whether she is from Osaka or the moon, it is mere speculation on her part; though assuming it is because of coronavirus is not just a 'guess' and ignores the protocol of keeping one's distance because of the virus. As noted above, was she the only individual thusly informed, is she the only person exhibiting a certain habitual behavior, are other people 'eating together'? And the posting: 'Commuters packed like sardines' - somehow tied to the aspect of social distancing - as if one logically dismisses or requires the other. Over a week ago, commuter traffic at Osaka Station was less than 50% of the daily average - trains are exhibiting fewer riders and a modicum of 'social distancing' is possible - it has been advised by healthcare officials and immunologists, that riding in a crowded space, though best avoided, such as trains, wearing a mask, and avoiding anyone coughing or sneezing and not touching one's face, immediately washing one's hands will prevent acquiring infection. Riding the train to work is unavoidable for many - sitting down to lunch with a fellow worker is not a necessity, but an ill-conceived choice, no matter the circumstance. Harassment? That is a different issue. Osaka: to be avoided and if you live there, stay there, unless you have to go to work elsewhere. Remember: stay at home. Though, to a degree it is a bogus strategy. But, there is no other.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

This kind of stuff is part of the DARK side of J=Culture, its pervasive year round, things like the virus simply bring MORE out into the open sadly

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Harassment (and bullying) at school, clubs and workplaces is institutionalized in Japan. So it existed long before any virus. It's a unspoken about cultural thing, fact...

3 ( +7 / -4 )

While I agree with you, I'm a tenured teacher who must follow the directions of those above me. 

You could always do the really socially respectable thing and resign so you can stay at home if you are that scared of peoples' bodily functions (sneezes, coughs etc). This thing is really serious, right?

I mean, the decision was made FOR me to stay at home after a list my biz due to the pathetic over-reactions and stigmatizations we have seen as of late. So I guess I'm taking one for the team as I live off my hard-earned savings. My future looking more and more bleak everyday. But, woah there, at least I'm not a 'spreader', eh!

You may think I'm bitter, and naturally, I am. The least you could do is respect the fact that you have an income and lighten up on your colleagues who are just trying to stay sane through all of this.

As I have said from the beginning, this is not an "emergency". The numbers are not commensurate with the public reaction and measures taken. The media has played a big role in this. We have finally lost the battle and this is who we now are.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

disasters really bring out the worst in people

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Sounds like her boss was trying to save her life.

Nice one, gogogo. “How dare you!”

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Whats with the down votes, clearly the woman having lunch together were not social distancing... take this stuff seriously please!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

This doesn't amount to harassment, more like a wakeup call.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

One aspect of Japan's psyche is passive aggressiveness. The group mentality seems to foster bullying more than individual mentality. Being a part of the group makes it easier to take very little responsibility of one's actions.

The same culture that forces people to maintain the "Wa"in Japan also can be used as tool to take out their frustration on others.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

MarkXToday  07:38 am JST

Not here! Unless you happen to be a famous person, if you got infected you would want it kept as quite as possible not to be bullied or your family ostracized. That is one thing about Japan I will never understand, blaming the victim.

If you read the article you would see that those who have been harassed are not people who have contracted COVID19. Therefore nobody is blaming any victim here.

That said, past history of harassment towards Hibakusha, or Fukushima evacuees is absolutely ridiculous and such harrassers deserve to become victims themselves to understand that what they are doing is wrong. But it is not "all of Japan", just some very ignorant people.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It is happening every corner of the world. Sad stories everywhere...Life isn't easy when people are at work in this emergency time. But life continues to everyone, good/bad people will exist any other time, if better world comes its this vicious virus changing our mind of social behavior and morality, we really need to know. And if not, the law will be stronger than any moral fairness.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

By itself, the Covid-19 virus does not come with stigma or discrimination attached.

Two impacts ride with it; Health and Economic.

The 'old normal' will not return, instead get ready for a 'new normal'...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask and/or don’t touch their face with unwashed hands when seeing them do it.

Dont be that guy.

Im imagining a guy with a super nasally voice calling me out on everything I do.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

At my office there is a nice guy who opens a big bag of potato chips and goes around to each person for them to take some. I have been refusing since the start of the year. But he did it as recently as two weeks ago. The pinnacle of moronic.

Maybe he thinks ur the moron for being a slave to the fear of death

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Ishii

It is happening every corner of the world. Sad stories everywhere...Life isn't easy when people are at work in this emergency time. But life continues to everyone, good/bad people will exist any other time, if better world comes its this vicious virus changing our mind of social behavior and morality, we really need to know. And if not, the law will be stronger than any moral fairness.

That looks like an excuse.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

gogogoToday  11:18 am JST

Whats with the down votes, clearly the woman having lunch together were not social distancing... take this stuff seriously please!

Maybe you should do a little bit of reading about social distancing and what it means. It does not mean you cannot have lunch with someone.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Dr. TheopolisToday  06:49 am JST

I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask and/or don’t touch their face with unwashed hands when seeing them do it.

I kinda yelled at one dude for sneezing with no mask and not even trying to cover his mouth.

If that is discrimination then sue me!!

Why are you wearing a mask? Latest study indicates cloth mask does more harm than no mask. Instead, get your affairs in order. If it is time to go, it is time to go. You are much, much more likely to die from a myriad of other causes so do not let fear guide your life. Live!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The longer that this pandemic lasts the worse it looks for China and its people on the world stage. Whether China being the source of the virus from a lab or an unhygienic wet market or the discrimination that Africans are facing because Chinese people are blaming Africans for the coronavirus.

China and its people are invested in downplaying its personal responsibility and severity of this pandemic.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I’ve told several people at my work to wear a mask and/or don’t touch their face with unwashed hands when seeing them do it.

Dont be that guy.

Im imagining a guy with a super nasally voice calling me out on everything I do.

No BE that guy... Japanese people are not taking this seriously. Remember oldest population in the world, 70% of the people are over 60... and with a death rate of 4-14% (60 - 80+ years old) you are talking about millions and millions of deaths unless the spread is contained. People need to suck up their pride and be part of the solution!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

A 73 year old women is informed, she should not be asking 'others' to eat lunch with her - 

Do you read the articles first? Read this again, she never asked anyone to do anything!

A 73-year-old woman working at a manufacturing company in Nara said her boss shouted for her colleague to stop asking the woman to eat a meal together in early April. She also found out that the same boss had told another colleague to stay away from her.

Her boss is the problem here!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Besides everything else, why does a 73-year-old person still have to be working (and commute all the way from Osaka to Nara) instead of enjoying her third age? Because the Japanese pension system is crap.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Kitchener Leslie

Where are they supposed to buy/find these masks? I haven’t seen masks on shelves in months.

You can purchase reusable cloth masks from .e.g. etsy and other such online craft platforms. Just click from the left "shop location Japan".

Or, if you have a sewing machine, you could try making one yourself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

DISCRIMATION is the lowest of human behaviour. No one should ever do this ever.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Maybe the boss did not want the younger employee to contaminate the 73 year old woman. They say grandchildren or young people should not even visit grandparents.

masks prevent you from touching your face where your hands most likely touched a contaminated door knob or rail. Coronavirus stays on metalnisually for 3 days as long as 8’days!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The boss is merely enforcing Social Distancing.

If he was enforcing social distancinghe would have shut the office down and sent everybody home,

but hey profits before safety, Japan Inc 101

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whats with the down votes, clearly the woman having lunch together were not social distancing... take this stuff seriously please!

gogogo - the boss was enforcing ity just for, not everyone. It appears that everyone else was able to have lunch together.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Remember oldest population in the world, 70% of the people are over 60

I don't think so. The figures I've seen for 2018 put about 72% of the population under age 65.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Richard Gallagher

point taken, you are correct. My reaction because I witnessed a young boss bollocking an older employee in a lift in business hotel in Tokyo once. I Regard such people as lacking management skills

0 ( +0 / -0 )

disasters really bring out the worst in people

They also bring out the best in people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People can eat together - just stay separated enough apart while doing it

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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