Japan to See More Women in Management and Politics Under New Law

Japan Properties

New law increases pressure on Japanese companies to hire more women.

31 Aug, 2015 –

Japan passed legislation requiring corporations to set a quota on the number of women hired, in a move that is seen as a step toward promoting “womenomics” in the world’s third-largest economy. The new law passed Friday is designed to increase pressure on Japanese companies to hire more women and promote them to management, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But the legislation affects hiring practices only at companies with 301 or more employees and the vast majority of Japanese firms are too small to be required to comply with the new law. The quota has been met with criticism in Japan, where some executives say setting a target rate of female workers doesn’t work because a lack of public support for childcare and other issues still remain an obstacle for women who juggle working life and family obligations.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to encourage equal treatment of women in the workplace is a practical move in Asia’s second-largest economy where a shrinking population has had an impact on productivity. In 2014, Goldman Sachs issued a report that estimated Japan’s gross domestic product could grow by almost 13 percent if the country closed its gender employment gap. Mari Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo, told Bloomberg that gender stereotypes play a role in keeping women out of more senior roles in business and politics. “Other countries have implemented lots of mechanisms to increase the number of women, and Japan hasn’t done anything,” Miura said. “That’s why Japan lags so far behind.”

Japan ranks 117th of 190 countries in terms of female representation in parliament, according to Bloomberg. On Friday during a state-sponsored conference, Abe said that his “womenomics” plan has made progress – more than a third of new recruits to the upper echelon of Japanese politics are now women, he said. Abe said that Japan wants to emulate northern Europe, where women combine motherhood and careers. “Our greatest barrier is a working culture that endorses male-centered, long working hours,” he said. Abe said men should be able to take childcare leave, and couples should share household chores.

(Source – “UPI“, Pic – Osaka Office Lady / “m-louis“)

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