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Japan’s #metoo movement

30 May 2018

The #metoo movement has been slow to gain traction in Japan. There have been few reported cases about sexual harassment involving public figures...until recently.

Recent focus on #metoo

Earlier this month, an audio clip was released which purportedly captured the Administrative Vice Finance Minister, Junichi Fukuda, sexually harassing a journalist. After a media storm, Fukuda reluctantly resigned.  On the same day as his resignation, the Governor or Niigata, Ryuichi Yoneyama, also resigned as a result of a separate allegation of sexual impropriety.

A sea change

The importance of the #metoo movement is globally recognised and understood by many organisations. However, there is still a lot to be done to create environments in which employees genuinely feel comfortable speaking up and confident that action will be taken.  This may be more challenging in Japan because, culturally, outspokenness is not the norm.

The two cases mentioned above could have easily gone unnoticed.  When the journalist initially reported the incident involving Fukuda to her boss, she was warned of the ‘reputational damage’ not just for her employer but also to her career.  The initial reaction of the Finance Ministry was to state that Fukuda felt “sufficiently remorseful” and allowed him to continue in his role.

However, it seems the power of the #metoo movement in Japan is driving change. When the journalist finally told a colleague what happened, they leaked the audio clip in anger.  There was public uproar when the government kept Fukuda in office and 25,000 people signed a petition to criticising the government’s handling of the situation - the Finance Ministry quickly backtracked.

Lewis Silkin’s #aLastingChange

There is no doubt that momentum is building in Japan, with calls for better protection of women in the workplace. Lewis Silkin is campaigning with the same objective - to create a long lasting improvement in women’s experience of work.  

Lewis Silkin is committed to supporting any organisation positively engaging with gender issues through delivering tailored advice focusing on specific aspects of business culture. We have already seen many positive changes with organisations we have worked with.

Whether your organisation is based in the UK or Japan, if you would like ideas, resources, a discussion or support to design your organisation’s lasting change, we’d like to hear from you.

You can find free information and resources, as well as our programme of events, on our web page, www.lewisssilkin.com/alastingchange.

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A Lasting Change

Welcome to #aLastingChange, a useful resource for ideas, collaboration, information, legal insight and opinions on how we can create a long-lasting improvement in women’s experience of work and overall make the working environment a better place for everyone.

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Lewis Silkin’s International Desk in the UK works seamlessly with our regional office in Hong Kong to support clients based in the Asia Pacific region with their UK and European legal requirements as well as supporting business’ legal needs in Asia Pacific.

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