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International Women’s Day, commemorated March 8, was a chance to celebrate women’s achievements. But it also highlighted the fact that discrimination continues to be a major problem for women around the globe — and Japanese women, unfortunately, are no exception. In fact, the world’s second-largest economy ranked 43rd in the United Nations Development Program’s Gender Empowerment Measure in 2005, the lowest of all the developed nations and most second-tier countries, too.

According to this index — which incorporates the male-to-female ratio in parliaments and among professionals, technicians and managers, as well as income disparities by gender — Norway rates as the world’s most women-friendly nation, followed by the other Scandinavian nations of Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. Japan ranked below the 12th-placed United States and 18th-placed United Kingdom — and was also outperformed by Latvia, the Czech Republic, Namibia, Panama and Tanzania.

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