Spotlight on Japan: Growing Economies Through Gender Parity

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  • Women’s political and social advancement was thus tied to their role as mothers.
  • 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.

Studies have shown that there is a negative correlation between the number of hours worked by fathers in their jobs and the amount of housework that the father provides. After paid work, the father would come home, spending most of his time eating or in non-social interactions such as watching TV with his family. This led to the term “Japan Inc.,” synonymous with males committing their life to their job while in a long-term relationship. The percentage of births to unmarried women in selected countries, 1980 and 2007. As can be seen in the figure, Japan has not followed the trend of other Western countries of children born outside of marriage to the same degree.

However, when it comes to women’s representation in politics, Japan remains behind other developed democracies as well as many developing countries. As of 2019, Japan ranks 164th out of 193 countries when it comes to the percentage of women in the lower or single house.

Professional life

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.

Although Japanese women now participate in the labor force at a higher rate, their labor market experiences are often less rewarding than those of their American counterparts. Japan is not the only country that could benefit from tapping into women’s latent economic power. The McKinsey Global Institute has calculated that in China, an increase in women’s employment, hours and productivity could add 13 percent to its G.D.P. by 2025. The relative gains in India and Latin America could be even larger, because gender gaps are wider there. Over all, McKinsey estimates that a global drive toward gender equality — in work, government, society — could create $12 trillion in economic growth by 2025. 66.7% of legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality under the SDG indicator, with a focus on violence against women, are in place. In 2018, 3.9% of women aged years reported that they had been subject to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months.

In prior decades, U.S. women in their late 20s and 30s participated in the labor market far more than their counterparts in Japan, and there was a slow rise in participation as women aged from their 20s to their mid-40s. Given the challenges which the Japanese economy faces, politicians in recent years have acknowledged the need for a social system in which women can maximize their full potential. Despite a high educational level among the female population, the career path of women is usually interrupted for longer periods upon the birth of their first child. After the childcare years, women tend to work part-time, which entails lower wages and fewer career opportunities. Under the government of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, policies aimed at supporting the further integration of women into the workforce were dubbed womenomics.

In October 2017, The Hamilton Projectreleased a book of policy proposalsthat focus on this avenue for enhancing economic security. Improvements in child care, paid leave, and scheduling policies might make it more feasible for women in the United States to join the labor market. Tax policies could be rearranged so they do not reduce the marginal benefit of work to married women. An expansion of the earned income tax credit could improve the earnings of women with less education—increasing the incentive for them to be in the job market. This is evident in terms of the prevalence of part-time work, the share of women in leadership roles, and the gender wage gap.

Japanese women account not only for the majority of the country’s population but also enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world. With a longer, more affluent life to live, the lifestyle of women in Japan changed as well. As children are usually not born out of wedlock, Japanese society shows one of the lowest birth rates worldwide.

Due to corporations and work regulation laws, men of all ages in large firms are forced to prioritize work over the rest of their life. The limited amount of help from their male spouses leaves women with the majority of household chores. While women before the Meiji period were often considered incompetent in the raising of children, the Meiji period saw motherhood as the central task of women, and allowed education of women toward this end.

Gender gap in employment and wages

In the 2021 Japanese general election, less than 18 percent of candidates for the House of Representatives were women. Of these 186 candidates, 45 were elected, constituting 9.7 percent of the 465 seats in the lower chamber. This number represents a decline from the 2017 general election, which resulted in women winning 10.1 percent of House seats. In 2013, Japan adopted “womenomics” as a core pillar of the nation’s growth strategy, recognizing the power of women’s economic participation to mitigate demographic challenges that threatened the Japanese economy. Japan has seen a rise in female labor force participation, but government policies have had little immediate effect on the strong cultural pressures that dissuade many women from staying in the workforce. Japan managed to increase the labor force participation of groups that were badly lagging and brought them up to the typical participation rate of women. The impacts on the economy and living standards highlight the importance of such actions.

The evolution of Japanese society has caused women to acclimatize to new customs and responsibilities. Various waves of change introduced new philosophies that guided Japanese lifestyles. Women were instilled with values of restraint, respect, organization, decorum, chastity, and modesty. Samurai feudalism gave little independence to women, and many were forced into prostitution. Some women served as samurai, a role in which they were expected to be loyal and avenge the enemies of their owners. Others, such as aristocratic women, were used for political alliances and reserved as pawns for family investment.

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Labor force participation can respond to deliberate policy choices in addition to demographic and economic trends. For example, changes in educational investments or retirement rules can affect the labor market experiences of the youngest and oldest workers. For prime-age workers, and particularly for prime-age women, a range of workforce and child-care policies can support labor force participation. However, only 0.2 percentage points of the increase in prime-age Japanese women’s participation can be ascribed to shifts in educational attainment, despite their 11 percentage point increase in attainment of four-year degrees from 2000 to 2016.