Activists stand-up fight sexual harassment of young jobseekers in Japan


Activists in Japan call for drastic steps to stamp out sexual harassment of job-hunting students. Naming it a problem that lurks in the shadows because of fear by the victims in speaking out, rights advocates said the government, companies and universities must do more to protect its young people and eradicate the problem.

Although the labour ministry drafted guidelines in October to prevent power harassment in workplaces, it only went on to say that such measures were “desirable” for students and other non-employees.

Despite some diversification in recruitment, many Japanese firms tend to hire new graduates, who begin the job hunt while still at university.

Many feel too vulnerable to denounce harassment, members of Safe Campus Youth Network (SAY), a volunteer group of professors and students at six Tokyo universities, told a news conference last Monday.

“Today, harassment against job-hunting students, especially sexual harassment against female students, is a serious issue that could interfere with life choices on their career path,” the group said in a statement demanding action.

“These cases are almost never reported and employees can say anything they like because students are the weak ones,” said Rhea Endo, a 19-year-old student at Tokyo’s International Christian University.

“People suffer in silence and offenders are not punished.”

Harassment runs the gamut from forced sex and inappropriate touching to verbal harassment, such as asking the job-seeker what kind of sexual relations she has, the activists said.

The guidelines against power harassment are expected to be finalised this month after a period of public comment, but have come under fire from some experts who say the definition of power harassment is too narrow. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)