If an observer would pick Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s two main policies on evidence of his first few years in office, it would probably be changing the interpretation of collective self-defense and pushing his aggressive economic reforms, aptly dubbed “Abenomics”. As it is becoming clear that the Japanese economy will not survive in the long-term with its aging population and highly patriarchal corporate culture, Abe is now encouraging Japan’s female population to join in and give a boost to its workforce.
Speaking in front of the hundreds who attended the 2014 Women in Business Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, Abe spoke about changing the current employment norms of Japanese society into one where “all women can shine.” This statement was made by the premier even as the data for 2013’s Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum shows that Japan is still relatively much at the bottom of the list – 105th out of 136 nations – when it comes to giving employment opportunities to women. “Abenomics won’t succeed without ‘womenomics,’ ” Abe said, using a term that depicted how women can directly affect Japan’s economy and was first used by managing director and chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Japan Co. Kathy Matsui. “I have placed the strategy for women at the center of the strategy for growth,” Abe added. “Half of all consumers are women and by making use of women’s ideas there will be new innovations.”
Matsui herself was at the event, and voiced her support of the government’s plans. Her company’s “Womenomics” report for 2013 shows that if Japan would use women in the workforce more efficiently, they could add as much as 12.5 percent to the nation’s gross domestic product. “Womenomics is not only a women’s issue,” Matsui declared. “The government, companies, and society need to cooperate to deal with the problem that Japan is facing.” And the problem is that Japan’s population is not getting any younger, and it is not also experiencing a normal rate of childbirth as well. In both cases, women are key – this is why the government has recently moved to increase the number of after-school care facilities and daycare facilities. If Japan were to seriously push towards greater gender equality in its workforce, it might just be a bit of hope for the country’s struggling economy.
[via Japan Times]