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Osaka city employee suspended for harassing subordinate over pregnancy timing

The Osaka Municipal Government building is seen in this photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi/Tadashi Kako)

OSAKA -- A senior employee at a ward office in this west Japan city who repeatedly harassed a female subordinate over her choice to get pregnant and have a child was suspended for three months on March 30, the Osaka Municipal Government has announced.

    The 58-year-old employee, who heads the Sumiyoshi Ward Office's policy promotion section, reportedly told the woman on finding out she was pregnant: "You have the worst timing." He is described as having told the city government during questioning, "I think of her like a daughter, and I said it for her sake."

    The city government reported that the official had harassed the woman for around a year commencing February 2017 when he was assigned to a post in the Suminoe Ward Office. Shortly after her marriage, the section chief told her which month he wanted her to get pregnant, saying, "If you're going to get pregnant in that month, you can move to another department."

    When he was told she had become pregnant, he reportedly blamed her, saying, "Do you realize how much of an inconvenience this is for us at work? You have the worst timing." The harassment came to light after the woman reported it to the city government.

    Additionally, during an investigation of the claims, it emerged the official had engaged in power harassment, such as reproaching another colleague to "get on your knees and apologize." He had reportedly been angry about being forced to respond to a mistake by the individual, who worked in another department.

    In remarks to reporters at the city government office, Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui said, "We have done work to change attitudes at government offices, but this is a huge organization and it appears there are some employees who haven't been able to change their way of thinking completely. We will improve our instruction going forward."

    (Japanese original by Hirokage Tabata, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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