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Labor ministry releases definition of 'power harassment'

31 Comments

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has released its first ever definition of the term "power harassment."

The number of people seeking counseling or advice, claiming to be victims of power harassment ("pawahara" in Japanese) has been on the increase, says the ministry. In 2010, the ministry said that consultation centers at labor departments throughout Japan received nearly 40,000 calls, TV Asahi reported Tuesday.

A labor ministry official said that defining "pawahara" represents the first step toward dealing with the issue, TV Asahi reported.

In the report, the panel defines power harassment as any kind of behavior in which a senior person takes advantage of his or her position in the workplace to cause coworkers physical or psychological pain.

The report outlines six different acts that would constitute power harassment. These are asking junior employees to perform impossible tasks, committing acts of violence and other physical offenses, causing emotional stress, isolating or ignoring individuals, asking personal questions, and giving an employee nothing or very little to do.

The ministry added that it believes many bosses are not trained to deal with power harassment and it plans to carry out workplace investigations to root out the problem, TV Asahi reported.

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31 Comments
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As usual, explanation is very vague and examples are meaningless. Great work, labor ministry!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

A labor ministry official said that defining “pawahara” represents the first step toward dealing with the issue, TV Asahi reported.

"Pawahara" :-) What's sexual harrasment termed? Let me guess it..."Sekkuhara"

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The problem is not the law. The problem is the court system that is bought and paid for by the corporations. It's David and Goliath in there every time. Companies will straight up lie in court. There's no danger in whatsoever. No such thing as contempt in Japanese courts.

When you go to court it's always a battle against the lies and judges.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This is a part of Japanese society culture that starts in kindergarten. They are addressing it at the wrong end of the spectrum.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

I would like to nominate a seventh pawahara criteria:

Use of position to acquire, use or dispose company or corporate materials for personal gain

Basing on the news for the past months, we can easily categorize big corporate wrongdoings into pawahara. But as NetNinja stated, the judicial system here in Japan is very much flawed.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The ministry added that it believes many bosses are not trained to deal with power harassment and it plans to carry out workplace investigations to root out the problem, TV Asahi reported.

Boss: Am I in trouble? Dilbert-san, I will fire your a$$ if you open your mouth in front of them. Dilbert: Hai Wakarimashita ~

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So in a nutshell pawahara is anyone in a position of privilege within an organisation, or, lets say a country, using their position of power, lets say for example government, to cause psychological and or physical suffering to those in a lower position to them, lets say, everyone else in Japan not related to the government.

Is anyone else seeing the irony in this?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

But this is the culture. Just watch so called comedy on TV. Seniority rules, and the older people like Beat Takeshi get to hurt the younger ones by mouth and hand.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Companies will straight up lie in court

Not just companies either. Twice I have experience of being assaulted by Japanese, only having to then stand and listen to them fabricate some of the biggest whoppers I have ever heard to the police! One claimed I attacked him with my pram containing my 6 month old baby and broke his foot!!! (not limping, not a mark on him and needless to say I didnt attack him at all!) Ditto several friends of mine. I dont know if I and many of my friends have just been unlucky or if that is representative of the general population as a whole, but it certainly seems so!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

hopefully the "kanryo" will be punished for harassing the poor helpless government of japan. and maybe, finally, the day will come when the government can make changes here for the better? the kanryo constitute the biggest power harassers.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@ Nicky Washida

Too bad you had to go through all this. It was the elevator incident right?

You can't generalize because there are so many good people.

TIP: Next time when you accidently bump another Japanese dont forget to say the magic word ("Sumimasen...")

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Pawahara could be changed to Ishihara and it would still carry the same import. This is endemic in Japan so giving it a name won't change a nation that has known only pawahara since the feudal age. Or some could say Japan is still in the feudal age. Example being that the government owns people's koseki tohon, marriage, birth and divorce records. Doctors own any medical test results you undertake. This is the ultimate in power harassment. Your own information, even for things you have paid for, is not your own.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I

would like to nominate a seventh pawahara criteria:

Use of position to acquire, use or dispose company or corporate materials for personal gain

Please explain how this, as defined, directly affects a subordinate?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Edited to add...

It's already covered under corporate law, it's called embezzlement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too bad you had to go through all this. It was the elevator incident right?

Hey Deepstar - the "broken foot" was the supermarket incident (he pushed in the queue in front of me, I politely asked him to line up like everyone else, he kicked my pram over). The elevator incident the woman claimed I attacked her first - even though the entire thing was on camera.

But yes - you are right - I MUST keep telling myself it is not everyone. It is very easy to get jaded here sometimes! :(

4 ( +4 / -0 )

PS Deepstar: if I bump into someone, I generally say "sumimasen". If a nutjob gets into the elevator, screams abuse at me and then punches me in the face - I tend to hold back on it! Sorry!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Let's start a list of true companies in Tokyo that staff members have experienced Powerhara. Let the country know it's a free world. Just write the company name in some kind of code so that it doesn't really actually accuse anyone or anything. No need to say the exact location - just use the Compass. Office locations can also be seen as a form of directly accusing the guilty and will not stay up. M. T. 40 today so happy birthday mate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A labor ministry official said that defining “pawahara” represents the first step toward dealing with the issue, TV Asahi reported.

LOL. This kind of behavior is part and parcel of Japan. And "defining" it is only the first step towards doing nothing meaningful about it. That too, unfortunately, is part and parcel of Japan, and why Japan is still living in the early-20th century in way too many ways.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Power Harassment translated from business speak into English is Bullying.....not just a Japanese phenomenon.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

giving an employee nothing or very little to do

Blimey - by this definition, 90% of the women in my office are victims. Tragically, they mask the abuse by looking vacantly at excel sheets for ten hours a day. Their name is Luka...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

the panel defines power harassment as any kind of behavior in which a senior person takes advantage of his or her position in the workplace to cause coworkers physical or psychological pain

It seems the key criteria for these rules is their being specific to the workplace. Generally, a person can vote for officials and socially choose who they go shopping with easily enough, but people generally do not get to choose who they work with. And sometimes changing one's place of work is nearly too difficult and should not have to be done anyways in these cases. So, if some people are getting stuck with "bad guys" in senior positions, then this helps the abused to have recourse.

@ NickyWashida: Elevators are key locations for security cameras. Glad you were okay.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Let's start a list of true companies in Tokyo that staff members have experienced Powerhara. Let the country know it's a free world. Just write the company name in some kind of code so that it doesn't really actually accuse anyone or anything. No need to say the exact location - just use the Compass. Office locations can also be seen as a form of directly accusing the guilty and will not stay up. .

I can not believe that anyone would advocate anything like this. I hope it's said in jest, but even then it's in poor taste, particularly to those that do suffer from this harassment.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In the report, the panel defines power harassment as any kind of behavior in which a senior person takes advantage of his or her position in the workplace to cause coworkers physical or psychological pain.

Um, isn't Japan based on this? They just call it the kohai/sempai system.

Nicky, horrific stories. I once dealt with a crazy coworker (j female) who bullied the crap out of me AND through things at me. Then got on the phone with management and cried big crocodile tears and I got blamed. Those working with her now know the truth and would love to get rid of her - but everyone is scared she'll turn on them. Countless staff have left because of her. Thing is, she's now married to a manger so...

This is just another "try and make it look like we are doing something but in reality, will not" type thing. It is right up there with their goal to get women into the workforce and have them treated the same as men...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Before i came to work here i watched a movied called "Fear and Trembling" - its a french movie which addresses the issue of 'Pawahara' in Japanese companies and after watching it i seriously considered not coming. Luckily my company turned out to be one of the good ones.

For those who still dont understand what 'pawahara' is, go and watch this movie!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I saw that - it was very good and very true! I could relate to the character that was getting bullied by her sempai! A must watch for anyone thinking of working here!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

When I was fresh of the boat in this island demi-paradise, somebody told me that Japanese society is a "pyramid of fear and loathing" and that the wise gaijin positions himself outside of it as best he can....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@ NickyWashida: Elevators are key locations for security cameras. Glad you were okay.

Thank you :) . That incident was particularly upsetting as I was with my daughter who was 5 at the time, and my youngest was only 2 months old and in the pram. She punched me as the door opened and I fell backwards through the door, still holding on to the pram which tipped but luckily I kept hold of it and it righted itself. I just didnt see it coming, and I was too scared for the baby and my daughter to fight back.

My husband called the police, and they took a report. But he then went to try and talk to her himself a few days later as she lived in our building and straighten things out Japanese-style. Well - you can guess - she ended up kicking him and she was arrested again and charged with assault - again! We then heard from the kanrihin guy that she had been causing all manner of problems with other residents and was basically a looper. A few months later we moved anyway so God knows what happened to the witch.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

How on earth was someone like that not kicked out of the building after the first few incidents?? They care more here about the rights of the problem than the victim.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many bosses are not trained to be bosses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All the apartments were bought, not rented. Thats why they couldnt kick her out.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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