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Japan to make senior gov’t officials take courses on sexual harassment

The Japanese government will oblige senior officials to take courses aimed at preventing sexual harassment following a series of revelations of improper behavior involving high-ranking bureaucrats, a government source said Wednesday.

Currently, newly promoted senior officials are subject to such programs. But the recent scandals have prompted the government to expand the coverage to include those who took up director or higher-ranking posts before the programs were introduced, the source said.

The Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, which oversees personnel matters of high-ranking officials, will check whether the courses have been attended, effectively making participation a precondition for promotion.

The government will also start a consultation service to allow people not working for the government to report harassment by bureaucrats.

The move comes after Junichi Fukuda resigned as vice finance minister, considered the most powerful bureaucratic post in the country, for having sexually harassed a female reporter. While Fukuda has denied the allegation, the Finance Ministry has recognized the harassment in its probe.

Among other cases, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it had suspended Tadaatsu Mori, director of the Russian division, from work for nine months. The ministry declined to disclose the reason for the disciplinary action, but government sources said Mori is alleged to have sexually harassed a woman.

The set of countermeasures will be agreed next week at a government panel headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Seiko Noda, minister in charge of women’s empowerment, has proposed to introduce legislation to punish those responsible for sexual harassment. But the source said the government will not make a final decision this time about whether to introduce such legislation.

All – Kyodo News+

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