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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Harassment claims soar in Japan
Yokoyama
Governor Yokoyama was accused of sexually harassing a student last year
Complaints of sexual harassment in Japan rose by 35% last year, according to government figures.



Employers still lack the determination to improve the work atmosphere for female workers

Lawyer, Hisaaki Shirai
In the traditionally male-dominated society, the Ministry of Labour received 9,500 reports of sexual harassment.

"We're seeing more and more cases that had not surfaced previously," a spokeswoman said.

"I think the idea that it is no longer something that should be tolerated is spreading among women."

Half of the complaints were filed by the women themselves, while the rest were reported by companies asked to handle the cases.

The sharp increase may be prompted by a change in the labour laws last year, which made companies responsible for banning sexual discrimination and harassment at work.

Old problem

In about 10% of the cases, women said they had been treated unfairly after refusing to have sex with their male superiors.

A lot of the woman claimed their companies did nothing about their complaints.

"The figures show that employers still lack the determination to improve the work atmosphere for female workers," said Hisaaki Shirai, a lawyer handling sexual harassment cases.

Anger over the issue has been rising in recent years in Japan, where women travelling on the subway are frequently groped by male passengers and sexual harassment in work is common, but rarely reported until now because of a sense of shame.

The most high profile case recently led to a city governor's resignation.

"Knock" Yokoyama, governor of Japan's second city, Osaka, was accused of sexually harassing a university student.

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21 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Governor resigns over harassment claim
06 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's police chief quits
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