Q. What exactly is “sexual harassment”?


First of all, sexual harassment is no laughing matter. Any attempt to treat such behavior as unimportant or insignificant is a mistake in terms of etiquette and, increasingly, in terms of legal responsibility. If there is harassment in an office, it creates a bad working environment, and can prevent people from doing their best. Second, sexual harassment is usually directed toward women, but it can go both ways.

To eliminate potential sources of “harassment,” it is important to be aware of topics that irritate others. Among topics to be avoided in the office are one’s sex life, the sex of life of others, lewd comments about how someone dresses, and other insinuating remarks. There is a fine line between an amusing story that is slightly naughty and a story whose main content is overtly sexual. Similarly, sexually explicit books, magazines and calendars have no place in a business setting. Many Japanese weekly magazines feature nude photos which would be offensive to people in America and have even been banned on some airlines serving the Pacific region.