New phenomenon in Japan: “power harassment”

Mt. FujiIn many Japanese companies a phenomenon that can only be explained as being something Japanese called “power harassment” was brought to my attention the other day. A disturbing trend where employees in companies in Japan both large and small intimidate new employees. I suspect the reason for this type harassment is that older employees are protecting their economic interests, positions within companies, and incomes when new employees are hired.

My anger at learning of this type of harassment makes me question hierarchies in Japan even more. Many youth in Japan often quit work shortly after becoming employees because this “power harassment” is more than they can tolerate. And knowing Japanese they way I do after so many years living here in Japan, this type of harassment can be extremely intimidating.

How do companies expect to keep new employees around long enough to train them when they quit soon after being hired because of this type of harassment from older and usually male employees? The Japanese government is encouraging births in Japan and have gone on record as saying Japan would find itself having a shortage of workers. This anticipated shortage it is suggested would force the Japanese government to resort to relaxing Japan’s immigration laws which would allow foreign workers into Japan to make up for the labor shortage. I am still not able to follow that line of thinking.

From my many years living and working with Japanese especially male Japanese I know how nasty and niggardly they can be towards others in the work environment. With a suicide rate hovering around 30,000 Japanese a year it suggests that these suicides cannot tolerate the level of problems they are confronted with in trying to get along with other Japanese people while living under such enormous social pressures in Japan to conform.

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