Academic Harassment and Power Harassment

These two terms recently came up in a faculty meeting here. I had never heard these two terms or their abbreviated forms, “akahara” and “pawahara.” Yokkaichi University will have a workshop on these two forms of harassment, which amounts to bullying and discrimination. I was interested in finding out what the workshop themes were about before I went, so I Googled it. It appears that this terminology comes from Japanese industry and academics. Here are two definitions that I found helpful in understanding the terms.

Academic Harassment

Academic harassment in an educational or research setting occurs when, either through one’s actions or words, there is an abuse of authority, offensive treatment of another, a lack of respect shown for another’s personality or individuality, or when a person’s right to study, do research, or work is violated.
Depending on the form of harassment, not only would a victim’s emotional well being be affected, it may also have a negative influence on that person’s future.

  • A faculty member lacks essential leadership
  • Character assassination through statements such as, “You are stupid,” “You aren’t qualified to take this class,” or “Please quit.”
  • Saying things like, “You haven’t listened, so I won’t grant you credit, and you can’t graduate.”

  Examples in a research office

  • Not permitting the use of books or equipment in a research office
  • Refusal to accept a research theme or coercing someone to do a specific theme
  • Taking someone else’s research results or interfering with thesis writing
  • Not providing the necessary information to carry out job-related duties
  • Assigning work unrelated to official duties or assigning unrelated duties of a private nature
  • Spreading rumors by saying, “That person is strange,” or “Working with that person will damage your reputation,” or disseminating documents of a similar nature
  • Refusing to promote someone by giving reasons such as “That person’s attitude is bad.”

This definition is from Kyoto Gaikokugo Daigaku.

Power Harassment
This definition is from the UTU Forum Report.

Power Harassment signifies either intentional or unintentional remarks, behavior, guidance, and/or treatment by individuals of higher status, taking advantage of their authoritative positions in the workplace, or deviating from these positions that produces results that may considerably hinder an individual’s motivation to work and degrade the environment for fellow or junior colleagues.

It’s good that these kinds of bullying and discrimination are getting some attention, and it will be even more interesting to see where it leads. Up to now, awareness of sexual harassment has led to some positive changes in the workplace, while at the same time, discrimination against women has not.


One comment on “Academic Harassment and Power Harassment

  1. Anonymous says:


    Interesting information on academcic and power harrassment. Are there cases in Japanese universities where employees succeeded with complaints pursued either internally or externally?

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