Power harassment

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Power harassment is harassment or unwelcome attention of a political nature, often occurring in the environment of a workplace including hospitals, schools and universities. It includes a range of behavior from mild irritation and annoyances to serious abuses which can even involve forced activity beyond the boundaries of the job description. Power harassment is considered a form of illegal discrimination and is a form of political and psychological abuse, and bullying.

By country[edit]


Although the phenomenon power harassment is not uniquely Japanese, since it has occurred in many environments, the term is a Japanese coinage. It has received significant attention in Japan in recent years as a workplace problem.[1] For many Japanese, the only kind of management style they have ever experienced is one in which subordinates are treated harshly and no complaints are tolerated. This makes the nightmare boss seem normal, and those who have never had a different role model for management style find themselves falling back on the old methods. And indeed, many Japanese admire authoritarian bosses, finding them to be strong and admiring their "passion" that may be expressed in angry outbursts.[2] The term itself was coined by Yasuko Okada in 2002[3] and is used mainly in Japan. It is analogous to "abuse of authority" or rankism in the workplace. Yuichiro Makiguchi is one of the researchers of power harassment at Tokoha Gakuen Junior College in Japan.

South Korea[edit]

The topic of power harassment is known in South Korea as Gabjil, and it has been recently increasingly discussed in Korean media and scholarly works.


Many workers are forced by their superiors to perform tasks outside of their job description and working hours. It is common for workers to be fired or suffer severe repercussions if they do not satisfy their superior's orders, despite there being no justifiable basis for such orders. Situations exist where employees are treated in a manner that far oversteps the bounds of what is proper between a boss and his or her workers. Someone in a position of power should never be allowed to exercise the power in a bullying or discriminatory fashion. This can create an unhappy and unsafe work environment not just for those being harassed but for the entire work force. Typical examples of power harassment include:

  1. being scolded in front of other colleagues, rebuked in a loud voice
  2. neglect
  3. false evaluation and demotion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rochelle Kopp (2012).Power Harassment, Japan Intercultural Consulting
  2. ^ Rochelle Kopp (2014). Power harassment – Japanese workplace bullying. Japan Intercultural Consulting
  3. ^ Yasuko Okada (岡田康子) 職場で深刻化する「パワー・ハラスメント」. In TOKYO JINKEN vol. 15. (Published 2002-09-20 by Tokyo Metropolitan Human Rights Promotion Center) (Available only in Japanese).