By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 28, 2016) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) conducted its first series of “power harassment” prevention trainings throughout September for Japanese and U.S. military and civilian supervisors, namely those who oversee Master Labor Contract – or Japanese national – employees to inspire a harassment-free work environment.
As one of the command’s 2016 strategic plan deliverables, the training was established to ensure employees work in a harmonious environment and supervisors are trained and developed to lead them.
“I don’t think we talk about [power harassment] as much as sexual harassment,” said Byung Yu, a training participant and a head scheduler from the waterfront operations department. “[The training] makes me a better manager [and] aware of this information. I have no other [U.S. civilian employee] other than me; I have strictly 21 [Master Labor Contract] personnel. This is an excellent opportunity.”
“Power harassment” is officially defined by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare as any behavior in which an employee takes advantage of his or her work position, experience or knowledge, to cause physical pain or psychological distress on an employee beyond their work responsibility and, in effect, deteriorate the work environment.
“Power harassment doesn’t incur a criminal penalty, at least in Japan,” said Kenichi Kashima, one of the training facilitators and also a command hotline coordinator. “Also, it is not only superiors, but subordinates who may commit the wrongdoings. In any case, the workplace atmosphere and productivity could worsen and put an organization’s accountability in question.”
“Everyone was listening to the sessions and watching the videos very intently,” said Fumitada Mizorogi, another training facilitator who serves as an administrative interpreter and translator. “I hope they understood what ‘power harassment’ is, know how to deal with it, and handle it with legitimate procedures.”
“I thought it was pretty interesting,” said Luisito Grepo, a project superintendent from the waterfront operations department. “I haven’t heard whole lot [about] ‘power harassment’ [in the States]. But, it is not as prevalent as it is here in Japan. I think most of the employees in the States know what their rights are. So, they are not really afraid to be bold about exercising [their] rights.”
During the course, Kashima also mentioned some things particular to SRF-JRMC: the command boasts a multicultural workplace where people from different backgrounds inspire one another and learn from each other to enhance productivity. Unfortunately, he says, because conflicts are sometimes inevitable, that quality isn’t always free from pitfalls.
The training also focused on the command’s available measures to achieve a harassment-free workplace, such as grievance reports, informal verbal cautions and formal written counseling. Such measures ensure that harassment incidents and other patterns of misconduct are documented and actions are taken to address them.
“Now knowing the fact that there are processes in place to address power harassment encourages us to enjoy work,” said Masaki Kume, a sheetmetal ship foreman A. “I am now more aware of generation gaps and possible misunderstandings. It may take time for all of that to disappear, but training like this empowers us to deal with it fairly and without hesitation.”