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Gov't anti-sexual harassment poster draws online fire for frivolity, male focus

The sexual harassment awareness poster produced by the Cabinet Office.

TOKYO -- A Cabinet Office poster intended to counter sexual harassment has created a stir online, with suggestions that it doesn't pay enough attention to victims and the seriousness of the issue.

In the center of the poster is a close-up of a man in a suit, portrayed by actor Mikihisa Azuma, with a perplexed expression. Surrounding him are comments such as "Your outfit is cute today. I like it," and, "You've lost weight and look beautiful."

The poster received a lashing online, with suggestions that the man was being portrayed as a victim. One Twitter user remarked, "The man looks perplexed, as if to say 'I can't say anything in these circumstances.'" Another wrote, "It's phrased like the other person is the villain." Yet another commented, "I left my job due to sexual harassment. Just how seriously were they thinking to come up with such a frivolous poster?"

Few commenters supported the poster, which the government created to boost awareness during the annual campaign to eliminate violence against women, running from Nov. 12 to 25. About 27,000 copies of the poster have been printed.

Lawyer Kyoko Niimura, who is well versed on the sexual harassment issue, acknowledged that the poster would raise awareness to a degree. However, "A lighthearted poster doesn't convey the seriousness of sexual harassment, which extends to rape," she said.

A Cabinet Office representative commented, "We wanted those people with little awareness of sexual harassment to realize that their causal comments and actions about others' private lives and appearances can make those people uncomfortable. We're aware that there are various opinions on this, and we want to draw on them in the future."

(Japanese original by Haruka Udagawa, General Digital News Center)

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