TOKYO, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Senior government officials will be required to attend sexual harassment awareness courses to address a recent blight of cases involving high-ranking bureaucrats, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
Those who had assumed director or higher ranking positions as senior government officials have thus far not been obliged to take the standard sexual harassment prevention course as it was only mandatory for newly-promoted senior officials to do so, Kyodo News citing a government source as saying.
Along with a new channel to be created by the government so that citizens not working for the government can report cases of harassment by bureaucrats, the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs will also work towards making attending the course a prerequisite for officials before being promoted.
Japan has been rocked by a series of government-related sexual harassment scandals, with the latest move by the government aimed at clamping down on such cases, particularly following Junichi Fukuda resigning as vice finance minister recently for sexually harassing a female reporter.
Fukuda's high-profile resignation in April this year came less than a year after he took on the role as the ministry's top bureaucrat and at a time when the ministry had been under fire for a number of improprieties, including a cronyism scandal implicating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Fukuda was alleged to have made remarks to female reporters while drinking that were overtly sexual in nature.
In May, the Finance Ministry held seminars for its senior officials aimed at preventing sexual harassment following Fukuda's resignation.
In an unprecedented move by the ministry, around 80 senior officials as well as the ministry's own consultants in charge of counseling for employees on sexual harassment, attended the seminars.
Part of the training program included lectures by a female lawyer, Takako Sugaya, who is an expert on cases of sexual harassment.
Sugaya made it known to the participants that the way the Japanese public currently feel about the Finance Ministry is far more disappointed and distrustful than expected.
She urged those in attendance to have a sense of responsibility and ownership to prevent such cases from happening again.
Among more recent cases of sexual harassment by government officials, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Tadaatsu Mori had been suspended from work for nine months as director of the Russian division.
Government sources said Mori is alleged to have sexually harassed a woman, although the ministry has yet to officially disclose the reason for suspending him.
And on Monday, at a municipal level, Komae City Mayor Kunihiko Takahashi resigned after a lengthy period of sexual harassment allegations, including claims that first came to light in March this year by four city employees claiming he had harassed them.
Of those harassed, one of the alleged victims said Takahashi had forced her to drink from a glass he had been drinking from, while another alleged he touched her buttocks while in an elevator.
As cases of sexual harassment by government officials are becoming more prevalent in Japan, Seiko Noda, minister in charge of women's empowerment, has suggested the implementation of legislation to punish those responsible for such cases.