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Japanese women are falling behind in participation in economic and social activities and in obtaining decision-making roles, according to a government white paper released Friday.

The report, “Joint Participation by Men and Women,” says Japan ranked 41st out of 70 countries surveyed last year on their gender empowerment measure, or GEM, an internationally recognized yardstick that gauges women’s participation in society.

The placement marked a decline from 1999, when Japan ranked 38th on the GEM index. The United Nations-developed index uses four criteria: The ratio of seats in parliament held by women; the ratio of female administrators and managers; the ratio of female professionals and technical workers; and the share of income earned by women.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, the Cabinet member in charge of promoting gender equality, said the government plans to organize an annual symposium and invite experts from around the world to coordinate gender equity policies.

Citing a survey last year that showed more than 70 percent of women in Japan want both a family and a career, the white paper urges the government to create child-care facilities to support working mothers.

Addressing the issue of domestic violence, the white paper calls on the government to establish more counseling facilities and safe shelters, saying women are often victims of physical abuse at home.

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