Promotion chances rising for women in Japan

JIJI

Women are finding more opportunities to be promoted to managerial positions at big Japanese companies amid growing expectations that female workers will play a key role in any economic recovery.

Earlier this year, Sompo Japan Insurance Co. launched a program to educate potential executives among its female employees.

“I learned a lot,” said Sachiko Tsutsumi, 45, a manager at the major property and casualty insurance company’s Saga Contact Center, who completed the inaugural program in October with 15 colleagues. “I’ve never studied management so much.”

The six classes of the program included ones to help the 16 participants recognize their merits and peer expectations and on how to communicate as managerial officials and make management presentations.

According to a report by the International Monetary Fund, Japan’s rate of female workforce participation is the second-lowest after Italy among the world’s seven leading economies. The IMF estimates that a rise in the rate from the current 62 percent to the average of around 70 percent in other industrialized countries would raise the nation’s potential economic growth rate by 0.25 percentage point.

Women could actually save Japan, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said during the IMF-World Bank Group annual meeting in Tokyo in October. The IMF report called for Japan to diversify career paths for women and introduce work environments friendly to working mothers with measures such as expanding child care facilities and flexible working styles.

One spinoff of women’s full-scale participation in the workforce would be a bigger child- and nursing-care service industry, said IMF Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara.

Earlier in the current business year, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. also launched a training program for female employees who aim to get on the career track.

To address its drop in career-track workers through mandatory retirement, Meiji Yasuda opted to make more active use of its female ranks instead of increasing new hires, personnel chief Yoshiichi Asano said.