THE TRANSNATIONAL APPLICATION OF
SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWS:
A CULTURAL BARRIER IN JAPAN
JACQUELINE M. EFRON*
Globalization is shaping the world in which we live.' Although globalization began as an economic process, it has turned
into a cultural, political, technological, environmental, and humanistic event.2 Globalization has forced corporations to expand
their operations across geographical borders,' and has resulted in an increase in the number of multinational enterprises
("MNEs").4 Corporate expansion, without regard for geographi- " J.D. Candidate, 1999, University of Pennsylvania Law School; A.B., 1996, Lafayette College. This comment is dedicated to my parents, Laura and Irwin Efron, for their infinite love and support, and to Blase K. Sacus for his patience and encouragement. Special thanks to Ryan Metz and his team of Associate Editors for their editing assistance.
' "For business executives in the 1990's, implementing and maintaining a [globally] integrated planning and control system will be a key factor for success." Laura B. Pincus et al., Comment,Legal Issues Involved in Corporate Globalization, 1991 CoLUM. Bus. L. REv. 269, 269 (quoting Trotter, The Global Management of Integrated Planning and Control, INT'L EXECUTIVE, Mar.-Apr., 1990, at 27-28).
2 See Alex Y. Sieta, Globalization and the Convergence of Values, 30 CORNELL INT'L L.J. 429, 429-30 (1997).
3 See id.; see also Pincus, supra note 1, at 270 (noting that globalization results in the firm's management "dispersed across continents, and personnel assignments not [being] bound by languages, country lines or citizenship of the firm's employees.").
' See Paul F. Buller et al., The Challenge of Global Ethics, 10J. Bus. ETHICS 767, 767 (1991).
U. Pa. J. Int'l Econ. L.
cal borders, requires corporate officers to deal with foreign laws, policies, and cultures. As a result, the businesses of the United States, Western Europe, and Japan feel pressure to make their practices more uniform.5
Though the process of globalization has standardized corporate structure and organization,6 the same cannot be said for business ethics.' The global economy, although marked with borderless transactions and dealings, has continued to divide individuals along "racial, ethnic, religious and gendered borders."8 Since the way individuals conduct themselves in business is closely tied to their culture and background, MNEs have had a difficult time dealing with foreign countries' business practices leading to inevitable conflicts.9 This ability of corporations to globalize business ethics has led to numerous problems."
Sexual harassment, a societal construct, largely results from underlying cultures, values, and customs, and it creates several problems for MNEs. Despite the ubiquity, publicity and universality of sexual harassment," countries approach the problem
' See David Vogel, The Globalization of Business Ethics: Why America Remains Distinctive, 35 CAL. MGMT. REV. 30 (1992).
6 "The structure and organization of firms, manufacturing technologies, the sc'cial organization of production, customer relations, product development, and marketing- all are becoming increasingly similar throughout the advanced industrial economies." Id.
' Some scholars argue, however, that there has been a globalization of values and human rights. Additionally, norms of business behavior differ greatly among capitalist nations. See Vogel, supra note 5, at 30. 8 Zillah Eisenstein, Stop Stomping on the Rest of Us: Retrieving Publicness from the Privatization of the Globe, 4 IND. J. GLOBAL LEGAL STUD. 59, 59 (1996).
9 Buller et al., supra note 4, at 767.
" For an examination of the problems that corporations face when dealing with foreign corporations whose standards of ethical behavior are quite different from t eir own, see Vogel, supra note 5.
" Sexual harassment is not a unique problem in the United States, rather the problem is prevalent throughout the...