Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s vow to make women a more integral part of Japan’s society seems to be undermined by his very own party, the Liberal Democratic Party. While Abe called for women to fill up 30% of senior positions in all aspects of society by 2020, the LDP only has 9 women out of 79 candidates in the upcoming Upper House elections in July, a very lowly 11%.
Under Abe’s leadership, Japan has already fallen to 124 from 113 in the global ranking of women in national parliaments. This latest figure from the LDP risks a further fall in the rankings compiled by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of the parliaments of sovereign states. While Abe has been advocating to increase female participation in the workforce as one of the ways of boosting the economy, observers note that traditionalists will always say that women belong at home, taking care of the husband and children.
From a political perspective, Abe’s words seem hollow to some. While he appointed two women to senior positions in the LDP, currently, only 2 out of his 18 cabinet members are female. Yoko Kamikawa, a lawmaker and former Minister for Gender Equality says it is quite difficult for a woman to be recruited, much less run for parliament under the ruling LDP. The opposition party Democratic Party of Japan will be fielding 11 out of 57 Upper House candidates, still low but a little bit better than the LDP at 19%. One of the female cabinet members, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hikariko Ono had this to say, “Active participation of women is at the core of Prime Minister Abe’s growth strategy.”
It’s not just in politics that women in Japan are vastly under-represented. Statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show that only 15% of department managers across all sectors are female, while women’s salaries are just at 70% of the men’s. Kathy Matsui, chief Japan equities strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in Tokyo published a report called “Womenomics”. She says that if the country increases women’s participation in the workforce to 80%, the gross domestic product will increase by 14% and the workforce can reach 8 million. The current share of women in the country’s employment rate is at 60%.
[ via Bloomberg ]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan