Spotlight on Japan: Growing Economies Through Gender Parity

9 de Fevereiro de 2023

She describes the different kinds of magazines, their stories and readerships, and the new genres the emerged at the time, including confessional pieces, articles about family and popular trends, and advice columns. Japan’s post WWII occupation changed gender roles through legal and social reforms. WWII expunged the feudal system and the new Japanese Constitution prohibited discrimination based on gender. In addition, American perceptions of public displays of affection, style, and morals changed how Japanese men and women interacted with each other. Gender roles blended with Japanese tradition and modern American attitudes.

  • Women’s political and social advancement was thus tied to their role as mothers.
  • This amendment shortens the women’s remarriage period to 100 days and allows any woman who is not pregnant during the divorce to remarry immediately after divorce.
  • She cautiously expresses the necessity for discretion in regards to her knowledge, since this education was restricted for women, again a product of preconceived prejudices against women due to the Buddhist convictions.
  • Yoshiko Maeda, a councillor in western Tokyo since 2015, says sexism is not confined to social media.
  • Many women find satisfaction in family life and in the accomplishments of their children, gaining a sense of fulfillment from doing good jobs as household managers and mothers.
  • Women in offices are often treated as cheap labour, relegated to menial tasks such as serving tea.

Compared to the limitations previous generations had to face, modern Japanese women enjoy more freedom, have better access to education, more job opportunities, and therefore gained visibility in society. But while attitudes on traditional gender roles may have shifted in recent decades, social change has since been a slow, gradual movement and by no means has Japan reached an equal society.

Another critique suggests the cars send the signal that men create a dangerous environment for women, who cannot protect themselves. Japanese and foreign women and girls have been victims of sex trafficking in Japan. They are raped in brothels and other locations and experience physical and psychological trauma. Japanese anti-sex trafficking legislation and laws have been criticized as being lacking. Of the 200,000 abortions performed per year, however, 10% are teenage women, a number which has risen since 1975. At 87 years, the life expectancy of Japanese women is the longest of any gender anywhere in the world. Notably, Tsuruko Haraguchi, the first woman in Japan to earn a PhD, did so in the US, as no Meiji-era institution would allow her to receive her doctorate.

Female representation in politics

In the fourth survey, completed in 1985, there was a significant recorded movement towards equality. Up until it, women were only counted as housewives and family business labor (help with family-owned businesses, like farm work) did not count toward measures of economic mobility. It is here that we finally start to see a shift toward a more equal culture. Anti-stalking laws were passed in 2000 after the media attention given to the murder of a university student who had been a stalking victim. With nearly 21,000 reports of stalking in 2013, 90.3% of the victims were women and 86.9% of the perpetrators were men.

Subsequent cohorts of women in Japan have increasingly broken from this pattern. Every cohort born after the 1952–56 group has experienced a successively smaller—and somewhat delayed—early-career decline in labor force participation. Indeed, women born after 1977 have maintained or increased their participation through their 20s, with relatively muted declines in the early 30s. In contrast, women born in the 1980s in the United States do not participate at higher rates than previous cohorts, and in fact are slightly less likely to be in the labor force.

Activist Tamaka Ogawa says she joined the women’s movement after receiving insults—such as “filthy feminist” —over a 2013 article defending working mothers. Mori, who was head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee, provoked worldwide outrage in February 2021 with remarks about “talkative women” prolonging meetings. A petition launched the following day calling for “appropriate sanctions” against him collected 110,000 signatures in two days. A Kyodo poll found that 60 percent of Japanese believed he should step down as committee head. A number of Olympic sponsors and celebrities distanced themselves from his remarks, and more than a thousand volunteers refused to help out during the Olympics. Despite Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s support, Mori was forced to step down, the first time an LDP heavyweight had resigned over sexist behavior.

Those women who do remain economically active are significantly more likely to pursue part-time or irregular work, a practice that hampers their career development; even in 2014, only 1 percent of executives in Japan’s top twenty companies were women. In light of these trends, the government has pledged to amplify policies to incentivize the use of gender-neutral leave policies, allow for flexible work environments, reform the tax code to reward dual earners, and combat workplace discrimination. The government has also committed to expanding access to childcare, pledging the creation of half a million new daycare spots by 2019.

In popular culture the toiling of salarymen to feed their families is often compared to the self-sacrifice of the samurai. So sexual entertainment is seen as a means of rejuvenating their productive powers. The women Ms Koch meets often take pride in repairing men’s mental wounds. In 2018, it was revealed that several university medical schools, Tokyo Medical University, Juntendo University, and Kitasato University, favored male applicants by using different passing marks for men and women. In Japan, the ratios of female doctors compared to male doctors are relatively low, and the overall numbers of them are only 21.1%.

During the 21st century, Japanese women are working in higher proportions than the United States’s working female population. Income levels between men and women in Japan are not equal; the average Japanese woman earns 40 percent less than the average man, and a tenth of management positions are held by women. Given the dominance of men in Japanese politics, female politicians often face gender-based discrimination and harassment in Japan. They experience harassment from the public, both through social media and in-person interactions, and from their male colleagues. A 2021 survey revealed that 56.7% of 1,247 female local assembly members had been sexually harassed by voters or other politicians. Even though the 1997 revision of the EEOL criminalized sexual harassment in the workplace, female politicians in Japan often do not have the same support when they are harassed by male colleagues. The LDP has been reluctant to implement measures to counter harassment within the party and to promote gender equality more generally.

Right to divorce

In the 1930s and 1940s, the government encouraged the formation of women’s associations, applauded high fertility, and regarded motherhood as a patriotic duty to the Japanese Empire. However, it is important to note that population aging may have consequences that are less direct. For example, the increase in demand for long-term care services—a sector employing many more women than men—likely increased demand for women’s labor. These calculations are only intended to give a rough sense of the magnitudes of the shifts, as we have not attempted to identify the causal impact of rising long-term care demand. Until the late 1990s, the so-called women’s protection provisions putlimits on women’s labor market engagement, limiting hours of work and total overtime as well as prohibiting women from working in occupations deemed dangerous.

In 2019, 44.2% of employed women were part-time and temporary workers, compared to only 11.7% of employed men. Sakie Fukushima became one of the first Japanese women to become a director of a major domestic company when she joined the board of the chemical and cosmetics company Kao in 2002.

On the Inconvenience of Other People

Similar to that in national politics, women’s representation in Japan’s local politics has seen a general upward trend since the 20th century, but still lags behind other developed countries. Of the 1,051 candidates, just 186 – or less than 18% – are women, despite the introduction in 2018 of a gender equality law encouraging parties to select similar numbers of male and female candidates. Only around 9 percent of middle managers in companies are women, and at senior management level the figure is much lower. Government figures show the pay gap between men and women has fallen from 40 percent in the 1990s to 24.5 percent in 2020 (compared to 16.5 percent in France). But this is due more to a drop in men’s pay over the last 20 years than a rise in women’s pay. And women often have precarious jobs (part-time, short-term, temporary, etc.) paying less than 55 percent of men’s average salary, a trend that is growing. In 1985 the Diet ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and adopted an equal employment opportunity law.