Dozens of women working in Japanese media have been sexually harassed, according to survey

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Susan Devaney
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A recent sexual harassment survey in Japan has revealed 150 allegations made by women who work in the country’s media. 

Since the #MeToo movement was sparked last year, it has led to women, from one country to the next, coming forward to share their own story. And now, the women of Japan are joining the conversation.

A recent poll has found dozens of women working for newspapers and TV networks have been sexually harassed in the workplace. The survey uncovered 150 cases of alleged sexual harassment targeting 35 women – with government officials, police officers and MPs cited as the perpetrators in about a third of the cases.

The survey comes after the resignation of Junichi Fukuda, the vice minister of finance, who had allegedly sexually harassed a female reporter from the TV Asahi network.

And 40% of the alleged incidents occurred in the workplace, according to Professor Mayumi Taniguchi, a gender studies expert at Osaka International University.

The recently formed Women in Media Network Japan – founded by freelance journalist Chie Matsumoto – has helped women talk about their own #MeToo stories.

“Our network has 90 members and 19 of them say they have been sexually harassed, including by police sources, interviewees and their own bosses,” Matsumoto told the Guardian. “They were all told to forget about what happened to them – that putting up with sexual harassment was part of their job as journalists.”

More women in Japan are coming forward to share their #MeToo story

Experts believe women in Japan haven’t joined the #MeToo movement at the same speed as Europe and the US due to fear of being blamed or stigmatised if they come forward.

In 2015, a female journalist – who worked for Hokkaido Shimbun, a regional newspaper – took her own life after being sexually harassed at work. She had alleged that her boss and a co-worker had sexually harassed her by repeatedly touching her body at an office party in 2014. Before taking her own life, she sent documents to various news outlets across Japan criticising the company’s handling of her case.

The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who positions himself as a women’s rights advocate, has yet to comment on the sexual harassment claims made by women in the media.

Images: Getty / Unsplash