When it comes to gender equality, Japan has never failed to disappoint.

The world's third-largest economy never runs short of statistics that point to disadvantages for its women, whether that be work opportunities, wages or participation in politics. The Global Gender Gap Report 2012, released by the World Economic Forum in November, puts Japan in 101st place out of 135 countries. Other numbers help explain why.

In Japan, 70 percent of women have jobs before they get married, but 62 percent of them quit after having their first child. The numbers of female university researchers and doctors are on the rise, but they still make up only 13.8 percent and 18.9 percent of those categories, respectively. Politically, women occupy only 7.9 percent of Lower House seats and 18.6 percent of Upper House seats, and only three of Japan's 47 prefectural governors are women.