“Logical Harassment”: The Latest Curse of the Japanese Workplace?

“Logical Harassment”: The Latest Curse of the Japanese Workplace?

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Harassment in the Japanese workplace
Picture: mits / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Is it "harassment" to batter your colleagues and loved ones with logic? A new concept goes viral in Japan - and is met with skepticism.

Workers in Japanese corporations often have to deal with harassment. In recent years, people in Japan have gotten better at identifying various forms of harassment. While harassment hasn’t disappeared, it’s at least on the decline. But now, a new form of securing power over one’s subordinates has become a hot topic of discussion. Logical harassment (ロジカルハラスメント) – better known by its abbreviation ロジハラ (roji-hara) – became a hot topic this weekend. But not everyone’s on board with the concept.

What is Logical Harassment?

Roji-hara is, according to one site, the act of “cornering and chasing someone down with a logical argument.” In other words, it’s not just about simply making a logical argument. It’s about using “logic” to continue to press one’s point regardless of the other person’s feelings.

While roji-hara just started getting buzz on Twitter, the concept’s been around for a few months. Writing for the site MyNavi Woman, columnist Toiana gave a full rundown in an article published just last month.

Toiana gives several examples of the practice as a boss at work might use them, such as: “Why do you change your demeanor when you’re talking to different people? We’re all colleagues, right?” Or, “Who screwed this up? Yamada did? Yamada, explain yourself!”

But roji-hara isn’t just limited to work. Toiana also cites two possible examples from a relationship, such as: “Here are the three things that bug me about you. You’ve got a month to fix them or we’re breaking up.” And, “You make just as much as I do. Why can I save money but you can’t?”

In each of these cases, the harasser is making an assumption: that there’s only a single correct answer in any situation. They press their victim for a “logical” response – with zero regard for that person’s feelings, needs, or individual circumstances. The error, says Toiana, is an over-reliance on logic:


Logical thinking is merely one method of making a business or household run smoothly. And if you don’t realize that logical thinking is just one form of thought, you won’t be able to escape your harasser.

Wide Show and Twitter Buzz

The concept of roji-hara got a huge boost in visibility this Sunday thanks to the folks on the morning discussion program Waido na Show. It was not, however, a well-received concept. The show’s co-host, Matsumoto Hitoshi, immediately dismissed the concept as “unintelligible”. “I have no idea what it is. I hope it goes viral quickly – goes viral quickly, then dies quickly.”


Netizens also greeted the concept with a large dose of skepticism. On the discussion site Girls’ Channel, the most liked comment laments that “people spend too much time emphasizing their rights”. Other commenters asked how you were supposed to get other employees to correct their mistakes if such correction is always dismissed as “logical harassment.” One commenter even suggested the concept would ruin mystery stories:

“Detective: ‘I’ve brought you all here for one reason. And that’s to bring the truth of this strange incident and its perpetrator into the light.’

“Perpetrator: ‘Isn’t that logical harassment? Please, don’t.'”

Others were a little more sympathetic. One commenter on Twitter said, “Logic’s important, but so are people’s feelings.” Another wryly commented, “Twitter’s a veritable den of logical harassment.”

Given such staunch pushback, it doesn’t seem likely that roji-hara will catch on in the same way that seku-hara (sexual harassment), pawa-hara (power harassment), or even patahara (paternity harassment) have.

On the other hand, it’s not surprising that workers in Japan are becoming more sensitive to perceived harassment of all kinds. As recently as 2015, a worldwide survey on workplace harassment placed Japan third, with 30% of workers saying they’d suffered some form of abuse at work. As a result, it remains a popular topic in the news as well as online. And various organizations and non-profit groups are fighting hard to ensure that sexual, moral, power, and other forms of harassment in the Japanese workplace die a quick death.

Even if you think roji-hara goes a little overboard, it’s refreshing to see Japan tackling this chronic workplace issue.

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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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