The industry ministry should take “drastic measures” to enable women to work equally alongside men, a private study group under the ministry said in a recent report.

Analyzing problems in nursery services, social welfare systems and employment customs, the group concluded that removing barriers inhibiting women from working is not only economically rational but also creates choices for men.

The report differs from other government studies because it contains detailed analysis from a macroeconomic point of view, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

After analyzing the gap between potential and actual female workers, the report notes the necessity of providing nursery services capable of caring for an extra 1 million children. Currently, the focus is only on some 33,000 children on waiting lists.

To achieve this goal, the report calls for increased involvement from the private sector along with the creation of a voucher system to improve the efficiency of these services.

The report also recommends the abolition of social welfare systems that discourage women from earning substantial wages. Spouses earning over 1.3 million yen per year lose their exemption from paying premiums on public pension and health insurance programs.

A section within the industry ministry convened the group about a month ago to analyze gender equality issues from an economic viewpoint, the officials said.

The group’s proposals, to be taken into account by the ministry when mapping out government measures, will be used as a basis for exchanging opinions with business groups, they said.

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