This week’s featured article


Japan’s attempts to create “a society in which women shine” are falling short, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual gender equality ranking.

The nation placed 121st out of the 153 countries in the rankings released Tuesday — a record low — performing by far the worst among the Group of Seven major economies.

Japan’s worsening gender equality as detailed by the Swiss-based organization’s report is sure to be a source of embarrassment for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long proclaimed to be pushing for an increased female presence in leadership positions.

“Japan’s gender gap is by far the largest among all advanced economies and has widened over the past year,” the report said.

The WEF report showed Japan slipping from last year’s 110th place, trailing rival Asian economies such as China and South Korea, which ranked 106th and 108th, respectively.

According to the report, women made up just 10.1 percent and 5.3 percent of the Diet’s Lower House and Abe’s Cabinet, respectively. Globally, the ratio stood at 25 percent for women in parliament and 21 percent for ministerial positions in 2019.

At just 10 percent, “female representation in the Japanese parliament is one of the lowest in the world” and “20 percent below the average share across advanced economies,” it said.

As a result, Japan — in terms of political empowerment for women — dropped to 144th this year, from the previous year’s 125th.

Abe named only one woman to his Cabinet in an October 2018 reshuffle, which the WEF said placed Japan 139th in terms of the percentage of women in ministerial positions. The current version of the Abe Cabinet, which was launched in September, has three women among its ranks.

The nation also made little progress in closing the gap in terms of economic participation and opportunity, having merely edged up from 117th to 115th. The report said only 15 percent of senior and leadership positions were held by women in Japan.

First published in The Japan Times on Dec. 17.

Warm up

One minute chat about Japan.


Collect words related to women,

e.g: female, gender, equality.

New words

1) embarrassment: shame, e.g. “The government should feel embarrassment after reading the report on gender equality.”

2) proclaim: announce publicly, e.g. “The politician proclaimed to have no knowledge of the crime.”

3) plummet: drop at a high speed, e.g. “Birth rates have plummeted in recent years.”

Guess the headline

Japan slides 11 places to 121st in global g_ _ _ _ _ e_ _ _ _ _ _ _ ranking


1) What is the current situation of gender equality in Japan?

2) What was the reason for the drop in the rankings?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think is needed to achieve a “society in which women can shine”?

2) What do you expect from politicians?





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