Japanese women could save the country’s economy if more of them went to work. This was the call made by Christine Lagarde, director of the International Monetary Fund, during the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank held in Tokyo this year. A simple but powerful message for a country with an underperforming economy, rapidly aging population, and a traditional society where married women stay at home.
Japan’s population is declining, with 23 percent of it over the age of 65, as young people put off starting families, both because of social stigma and because of the slow economy. Japan has an estimated population of 127,799,000 as of October and is expected to decline even more in the next decades. The population problem has both been a cause and an effect of Japan’s economy which has been showing anemic growth. Bank of Japan governor Masaaki Shirakawa spoke on the importance of involving the elderly and women in growing the labor force to help alleviate the economic issues.
Lagarde says that the participation of women in the labor force is not only critical for the world, but most especially for Japan. Five out of ten women are out of the job market, with many women dropping out of the workforce after childbirth, due to lack of daycare centers and social pressure to remain homemakers. She says that better kindergartens, assistance, and cultural assistance would do wonders for the economy and that the women could actually save Japan.
[ via Channel News Asia ]