“Do What I Say or You`ll Be Fired!” The Many Forms of Harassment in Japan

  • When entering the workforce, we’re all told about harassment. Harassment is a form of intimidation or pressure and in Japan, power harassment(パワハラ/Pawa Hara) and sexual harassment(セクハラ/Seku Hara)are two of the most frequent words used in Japan when it comes to someone taking advantage of their power and abusing other people.

    However, did you know that there are a range of harassment types?

    In this article, I will be introducing you all the terms with details regarding some of the harassment terms used in the Japanese society.

    by cinnamonellie

    Power Harassment (パワハラ/Pawa Hara)


    Power harassment is primarily a form of harassment that usually happens in a workplace and usually the bullies are the superiors, those with a higher background or those that have connections. The victims are people with a lower status and usually take on mental and physical damage from their treatment, which can lead to depression and suicide.

    Moral Harassment (モラハラ/Mora Hara)


    As the name suggests, moral harassment is a form of mental harassment that can manifest either verbally or by action.
    An example would be when classmates, teachers, parents ignore you or when your efforts are not being appreciated and you suffer internal damage because you are affected by their actions.

    Alcohol Harassment (アルハラ/Aru Hara)


    In Japan, nomikai/飲み会 (drinking parties) among coworkers are quite frequent. Unfortunately, there have been cases when this leads to harassment as people are forced to drink by participating in drinking games regardless of their consent or health condition. Binge drinking can lead to various short-term health issues or even serious incidents like falling into an alcoholic coma.

    Academic Harassment (アカハラ/Aka Hara)


    Usually in Academic Harassment, teachers take actions such as prohibiting students from using certain materials, not including some students` name in the dissertation or research studies without justification for their actions.

    Campus Harassment(キャンパスハラスメント/ Kyanpasu Harasumento)


    Similar to Academic Harassment, Campus Harassment is usually encountered between students, often between senpai(upperclassmen/seniors) and kouhai(underclassmen/juniors).

    Sexual Harassment (セクハラ/ Seku Hara)


    Sexual Harassment, abbreviated as Seku Hara, can happen to both men and women, however it is more frequently seen by women as a result of offensive actions made by men that abuse their “power”.

    In Japanese society, Seku Hara is mainly divided in two parts: compensatory type and the environmental type.

    The compensatory type usually occurs in companies or schools and is mostly done by people who take advantage of their position/hierarchy and pressure others with a lower rank to submit to their wishes or take sexual approaches and ask them to stay quiet if they want a workplace bonus or to avoid being fired.

    The environmental type of sexual harassment is the type that occurs inside a company. For example, when people use sexual language, ask indecent questions or take inappropriate actions such as touching people without their consent.

    Gender harassment (ジェンハラ/Jen Hara)


    It’s pretty easy to guess what this one is about; offensive comments that refer to your gender and personality. Even if you probably meant it as a joke, such comments might not be taken too well by the recipient. An example would be: ”You are so girly despite being a man” or “You eat too much for a girl”.

    Second Harassment (セカンドハラスメント/Sekando Harasumento)


    This is a type of harassment that occurs to the victims of any form of harassment that has tried to bring the matter up to their colleagues or superiors but end up being further hurt by being blamed for being paranoid or are told to have patience because it’s something that happens to everyone.

    Textual Harassment (テクハラ/Teku Hara)


    Textual Harassment usually refers to the reception of written documents, with the majority of victims being women.
    As an example, Miss A wrote a report and presented it to her superiors, and they responded like this:”You couldn’t have written this” or “Miss A, this writing is very masculine”. These are some accurate examples of Teku Hara and how they negatively affect people’s careers.

    School harassment (スクハラ/ Suku Hara)


    Suku Hara is sort of a combination between power harassment and sexual harassment that occurs in schools. Teachers take advantage of their positions and ask inappropriate questions to young students such as: ”Do you a have a lover?” or sometimes even make sexual approaches, touch their bodies in the name of “education”or ask the students to take off their clothes.

    There are further types of harassment along the spectrum which we have not included in this article: smell harassment, pet harassment, doctor harassment, technology harassment, noodle harassment, love harassment, there are many kinds affecting various areas of life. Some of these are isolated in origin, but many originate from the main two types of harassment: Power and Sexual Harassment.