A third of Japanese women have been sexually harassed at work, many by their boss


Almost a third of Japanese women say that they have been sexually harassed at work, with one in four facing unwanted physical contact, according to an extensive new survey published by a government institute (pdf in Japanese).

A quarter of the women said that the harassment was done by their immediate supervisor.

The study, the first of its kind, surveyed nearly 10,000 women aged 25 to 44. It was conducted in September and October last year by the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training.

Type of workplace harrassment Share of women who experienced it*
Comments about age, appearance or other external characteristics 53.9%
Unnecessary physical contact 40.1%
Comments or questions on sexual issues 38.2%
Excessive questions about private life, such as marital status and children 36.8%
Being forced to sing karaoke together, pour alcohol or take a certain seat at parties 35.2%
Persistent questions to go out for meals or on dates 27.5%
Sexual propositions 16.8%
* Among those who experienced sexual harassment (28.7% of total)

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has made getting more women into the workforce a key part of his plan to revive Japan’s moribund economy. This is crucial, given the country’s daunting demographics—the number of working-age people in Japan could fall by half by 2060.

But progress is proving slow. Matahara, or maternity harassment, is a problem—60% of working women reportedly resign after having a baby. And more than 60% of survey respondents said they endure harassment without reporting it, according to the Japan Times. Those who have complained—about one in 10—said they were punished for speaking up, including being demoted.

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