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The VICE Guide to Right Now

Japan Has Reportedly Started Dealing with Cases of 'Smell Harassment'

Let's be honest, certain members of your office have ripened this summer – don't you wish we had the same scheme in place?

We've got the latter half of a long, hot September ahead, and there are certain people among us who haven't taken to it well. They've ripened. Their odour is becoming a dire threat to your health. You want to tell HR, but is that bullying? Who even knows.

The good news is that a number of Japanese companies have started to crack down on the problem, calling in odour experts to deal with the very real problem of "smell harassment" in the workplace. So hopefully the lessons learned in Japan will make their way over to the UK by the start of next year's summer.


Corporations – especially those in the service sector – have realised the pitfalls of smelly bodies or bad breath. Random Corp, Japan's largest manufacturer of men's personal care products, has started holding seminars teaching concerned employees about how stinky staff will damage their image. Participants are instructed in the causes of B.O. and how to avoid inflicting "smell harassment" on fellow workers.

Owndays Co, which operates a chain of glasses stores across Japan, has drawn up a list of odour rules, due to worries that smelliness will affect sales. Staff are told to brush their teeth after lunch breaks and not to eat strong smelling food.

Who are the prime targets? Japan's middle-aged and older "salarymen" are typically the subject of criticism, particularly the heavy smokers. A spokesperson for Mandom impressed the importance of employees to keep workplaces odour free in the summer, since there has been "a marked increase in the workforce of women, who are sensitive to the smells of men".

Next time that guy who always seems to forget to brush his teeth rolls into the seat next to you, dripping like a spit roast, forward this article to HR, because harassment in any workplace is not acceptable.

(Photo: Kenneth Freeman, via)

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