A Shocking Number of Japanese Women Say They’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work

TO GO WITH STORY BY KARYN POUPEE A pregnant woman walks to her office in Tokyo on July 2, 2013. Pregnant women or young mothers, many Japanese say they are victims of "mata-hara" a name for "maternity harassment" of mothers in employment, an attic in an aging country in dire need of babies. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO--AFP via Getty Images

Twenty-nine percent of working women in Japan said that they’ve had to deal with harassment in their workplaces, including anything from inappropriate touching to comments on a woman’s age or appearance to being coerced into having sex.

The latest data comes from a survey conducted by the Japanese labor ministry across 9,700 working women ages 25 to 44, reported the Wall Street Journal. The results, roughly three out of 10 working women have dealt with harassment, shows the ongoing issues women face in the workplace as the nation seeks to encourage more companies to hire and promote women.

The most common forms of harassment were inappropriate remarks on a woman’s looks, age, or physical features. Close to 17% said that were asked or invited into a sexual relationship, and another 20% reported being harassed after revealing their pregnancies.


Currently, there’s a higher percentage of working women in Japan than in the U.S. or Europe. Those jobs, though, tend to be in lower-end or temporary positions, and Japanese women hold leadership positions at far lower rates than in the U.S. or Europe. The Japanese government has been taking steps to change that, requiring big companies to set hard targets for the share of women hired as well as those being promoted into management positions.

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