Power harassment plaguing Japanese workplaces more than ever before

Power harassment, in which someone in a superior position takes advantage of their power to cause distress to others, is now rampant in the workplace in the form of bullying, pestering and persistent reprimands, amongst other behavior. It has even become a way for failing companies to drive employees to quit.

One out of every three people who consulted the Labor Standards Bureau in fiscal 2008 about being pressed to resign complained of emotional problems, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has found. Those citing harassment in the workplace as the cause of their emotional problems exceeded 30 percent, which was significantly higher than those who were affected emotionally by bankruptcy and other challenges. The statistics confirm that the large numbers of lay-offs that have resulted from the current economic slump have had major emotional impact on workers.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, of the consultations made by workers with prefectural labor bureaus in fiscal 2008, 22,433 cases were regarding “encouragement to resign,” while 32,242 cases were concerning “bullying and harassment.” Both figures were the highest they have ever been.