NEW YORK – The head of the U.N. agency promoting women’s rights welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech last week at the global body’s annual meeting, where he advocated “a society in which women shine.”
U.S. magazine Time, meanwhile, published an article in its online edition that said Japan needs to transform its corporate culture, which tends to bar women from playing an active role.
Abe devoted roughly half of his General Assembly address on Thursday to issues relating to women, pledging to work for the empowerment of women and the prevention of sexual violence against women in armed conflict.
“We wholeheartedly welcome” his statement and “applaud his decisive leadership in making women and girls a top priority in his political and policy agenda,” said U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The chief of the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women also said they are “very encouraged” by Japan’s intention to become a leading contributor to the organization.
As the Time magazine article noted, women in reality account for only a small 7 percent of senior positions in management in Japan and said the prime minister “needs to do more to change the business culture,” which it said is holding talented women back. It cited programs undertaken by British banking giant HSBC and international accountancy firm Deloitte for supporting women as effective models.
Abe’s focus on women’s rights also comes as his teams tries to fend off calls to compensate thousands of “comfort women” forced into sexual servitude in Imperial Japanese military brothers before and during the war.