Japanese Women Decry Job-Seeking Harassment

Japanese Women Decry Job-Seeking Harassment

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Job seeking harassment - woman looking forlorn
"If you refuse, we'll bad-mouth you." From inappropriate advice to demands for sex, Japanese women open up about job-seeking harassment.

We’ve talked about a lot of different forms of workplace harassment and sexism that women experience in Japan. The harassment spans all stages of their careers – from college admissions on down to their choice of eyewear. Now, an organization in Japan is speaking out against job-seeking harassment – power and sexual harassment of women during interviews.

“Better Get a Boyfriend Or You’ll Be Left on the Shelf”

According to Huffington Post Japan, the organization, SAY, held a press conference on December 2nd. SAY has previously raised alarm bells around job-seeking harassment. On November 18th, it criticized Japan’s Health and Labor Ministry policies as “absolutely ineffective.”

As a follow up to that criticism, SAY held a press conference at the Ministry, where the organization aired the experiences of women who’ve suffered harassment during job interviews. One woman, who was interviewing for internships or a possible position as an OB/GYN, recounted how interviewers said things to her like, “better get a boyfriend or you’ll be left on the shelf,” and “Quit looking – you’ll be screwed if you don’t get married soon.”

Faced with such a situation, the woman told reporters that all she could do was laugh and pretend she didn’t notice it. “But,” she said, “I don’t want younger women to face this. I want them to have a safe path to entering society.”


「就職活動でのセクハラに、実効性のある対策を」ーー。 「就活セクハラ」をめぐり、学生有志のネットワーク「SAY」が12月2日、厚生労働省や企業、大学に対して具体的な対策を求める記者会見を行った。 …

(JP) Link: “We Won’t Be Silent Anymore” About Job Seeking Harassment: College Students Raise an Emergency Declaration

Twitter Users Share Job-Seeking Harassment Stories

With more women entering the Japanese workplace than ever before, sexual harassment is increasingly becoming a more visible issue in the country. Despite simply being wrong, this continued harassment only exacerbates Japan’s continued labor shortage by creating barriers to entry for women.

HuffPo JP’s initial reporting received a lot of coverage on Japanese Twitter. Many Twitter users gave their own thoughts, with more than a few lamenting what women were forced to endure. One user, Hiro, urged women to turn their backs on companies that engaged in harassment: “With so many companies short-handed, those that receive bad marks during interviews will be crushed. I think that’ll eliminate ‘black’ businesses. If You shouldn’t join a company if you feel put off during the interview.”

hiro on Twitter

@HuffPostJapan 今は人手不足のところが多いから、面接で評判の悪いとこは潰れるでしょうね。そうなればブラック企業もなくなるのでいいと思います。面接で嫌な思いをすればその会社に入らなければいい。それだけです❗

Other users chimed in with their own experiences. One user told a tale of power harassment: “I went to coffee during an interview with a company I really wanted to join, and they demanded, ‘Finish drinking your coffee!’ I wish I could rescue the feeble me of yesteryear.”


七面鳥のスープ@YouAreHope on Twitter

@HuffPostJapan とても入りたい会社の面接でコーヒー飲みに行って 飲みかけを飲めと強要されたなあ 弱みにつけ込まれてた昔の自分を助けてやりたい

And another woman told an even more harrowing tale. “I faced job-seeking harassment when I re-entered the job market. I was threatened for refusing him. ‘You sure? If you refuse, others in this business will bad-mouth you.’ This company forced clerical staff into sex. Me? I took back my resume, showed them my smart phone’s voice recorder and shot back, ‘Lay a hand on me and I’m reporting you.'”

Marine on Twitter

@HuffPostJapan 再就職で 就活セクハラありましたよ 断ると脅します 「いいのー?断れば同業者に君のこと悪く言うよー」 この会社は 事務職に 「性交渉」を強要しました わたし? さっさと履歴書等を取り返して スマホの録音中画面を見せて 「手を出せば通報します」と 脅し返しました #就活セクハラ #MeToo

Workplace harassment has received a lot of attention in Japan in recent years. But awareness of job-seeking harassment is low. Hopefully, the actions of SAY and the brave women who are now speaking out opens up another dimension of this important national conversation.

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Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

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