Tokyo to Establish Ordinance to Prevent Harassing Behavior by Customers

The Japan News
Tokyo metropolitan government office

The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to establish an ordinance aimed at preventing “customer harassment,” a term coined to describe unreasonable demands or malicious complaints made by customers to company employees.

The government aims to create momentum toward eliminating customers’ harassing behavior by advocating for its prohibition and establishing rules to protect workers. The ordinance would be the country’s first that is designed to prevent customer harassment.

Customer harassment refers to acts such as forcing workers to get down on their hands and knees and apologize, in addition to repeating extremely unreasonable demands by directing insults and verbal abuse at staff.

In recent years, customer harassment has become an issue mainly in the retail and service industries, with some workers who have experienced it developing a mental or physical illness that causes them to quit their jobs or even commit suicide. To address the situation, the Tokyo government set up an expert panel in October that has discussed necessary measures.

According to sources close to the government, the draft ordinance will stipulate the prohibition of customer harassment and Tokyo will aim to submit a relevant bill to the metropolitan assembly before the end of the year. The government is also considering including in the ordinance the responsibilities of companies to protect their employees from customer harassment. Specific prohibited acts will be presented in guidelines to be created separately.

Because some provisions in the Penal Code such as compulsion could be applied to acts of excessive harassment, the ordinance will not include penal provisions for violation of the ordinance.