〈中部経済新聞 「中経論壇」平成26年７月１日掲載 池田桂子 〉
How to correct Sexual Harassment
The other day, one of the members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly openly apologized to his colleagues, with respect to a very verbal attack on a female member of the assembly. The male legislator, who has claimed the support of public expansion to help pregnant women, displayed a very open jeering session as he shouted jeers and sexist remarks during her speech in a recent session of parliament.
Some of the remarks heard was he saying, “You had better get married early, you have no time to make a speech!” and “You are infertile”, were an open discriminatory attack on gender and clearly discriminatory. That event was shocking not only to the assembly but also to the Japanese society as a whole. Overseas media said those remarks are unthinkable anywhere other than in Japan.
According to statistics, at a time when Prime Minister Abe has listed in the newly coined phrase “Womanomics” announcement, that the average salary of women is lower by thirty percent as compared to men, and the percentage of women in management positions in the central government is at this point only three percent. Mr. Abe had just announced that a very direct concerted effort would be put forth to raise that percentage to a thirty percent proportion of women in management positions by the time of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
I think that the problem which occurred in the Tokyo Congress this time was an open feeling of the thinking of a narrow sector of people in Japan, who is ignorant to the effects of gender discrimination, and the issues in Japanese society which is also demonstrated in the workplace of many Japanese companies that Japanese women are regrettably facing even today.
As it so happens, the laws and regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, as it relates to sexual harassment in the workplace has been revised and put into effect as of July 1, 2014. As well as the “Guidelines for prevention to be taken by management on employment issues for employers caused by Sexual Harassment in the Workplace” and were also revised and were included.
In addition to that, the regulations were also stated that the cause of sexual harassment may even be a part of sexual discrimination, and it has been pointed out that it is important in that it will now have the power to eliminate such behavior based on gender roles and open consciousness to increase the effectiveness of prevention of sexual harassment. Now, employers should be conscious and aware of gender and sexual discrimination, and harassment.
In the past, and even now the role of many Japanese women used to be, and is now, that of protecting the home and the care and raising of children, as such a woman can remark on her role consciously and proactively that as such, the role of women who remain at home has been overlooked as well as their role in parenting, it caused some negativity on the basis of gender roles and a lack of consciousness in their role causing an adverse effect in the end.
We are instructed not to be so clear and openly conscious of the employer who is open to consultation, and to be open that there is or may be the possibility or perhaps a climate that might be causing sexual harassment. In most companies, they have addressed this and have arranged to have employees, and management enter into training of what is sexual harassment, and to empower employees and employers to recognize a climate of harassment and to eliminate it is in effect already.
As we view harassment, we should think about the victim’s feeling, and to not measure those feelings as the same as that of an average person who has not been exposed to sexual harassment. What the other party feels is a real thing as it applies to sexual harassment.
Training, in the definition of sexual harassment, even listening to a lecture of a short account gives more than just a passing thought, however it is not easy to understand the victims feelings. There are other issues as to the importance to share a common understanding and awareness of the implementation of workplace surveys and daily interviews, or in a distribution of a check list sheet. Role-play training is also very beneficial.
Even if it is allowed in the Tokyo assembly; in the case of the private sector in recent years if such an incident occurs, there would significant demerits as well as damages imposed for an example, as well as the reputation of the company would be a seen negatively. It may be said that recently the situation surrounding sexist words and other actions of harassment is so severe in the rest of the world which is and should be expected.
<Keiko Ikeda published July 15, 2014 Chubu Keizai newspaper “medium through Tribune” Heisei