A few months ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a speech in front of the United Nations and vowed that women will play a greater role in Japanese politics and the workforce. He has made the first step in fulfilling this promise as he names the first ever female prime minister’s aide. 53-year-old Makiko Yamada, a veteran of the internal ministry, has been appointed to advise Abe on policies that will affect women.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made the announcement on Friday, saying that the appointment of new United States ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy was the perfect timing to finally appoint Yamada, as Abe had been thinking of naming a female aid for some time now. “The government regards promotion of women in society as one of the key pillars for our growth policies,” Suga said. Yamada will be joining six other aides to the prime minister in a 19-member cabinet that currently only has two women: state ministers in charge of reform and women’s affairs.
International experts have long encouraged Japan to make use of its female talent pool as women in the country mostly have high levels of education. Economists believe that women are key to spur Japan’s economic growth, as well as to address the rapidly shrinking work force that is due to the ageing of the population. However, most of the women leave their jobs after having children because there is not enough support to help them manage their family and work, plus the social pressures of remaining homemakers is still very strong in Japan. Abe has made it part of his strategy to strongly encourage Japan Inc. to hire more women for executive positions and to also craft policies that would enable women with children to continue working.
[ via New Straits Times ]