Japan still has a long way to go in terms of promoting sexual equality, as its workforce is still heavily male dominated and traditional gender role stereotypes remain deeply entrenched, according to a government report released Friday.
The report highlights measures, social institutions and awareness levels concerning gender equality in Japan, Britain, Germany, the Philippines, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.
It is based on data from a survey conducted last year for the first time in two decades. About 2,300 people were surveyed in Japan, and 800 each in the other six countries.
“Japan is still a developing country in the sense of gender equality,” Mariko Bando, a Cabinet Office official, told reporters.
The report says Japan needs to “step up laws and institutions to enable (working women) to engage in work both at the office and at home, including child-rearing.”
It calls for a re-examination of conventional gender stereotypes to better promote equality.
The report draws attention to the government sector in Japan — where only 20.2 percent of civil servants are female — the lowest in the nations surveyed.
The highest was in the Philippines, with 53 percent, followed by the U.S. with 49.3 percent and Britain with 49.1 percent.
A sense of gender inequality is pervasive in Japan, the report finds, with 67.7 percent of women here surveyed saying men are given preferential treatment at work.
Although the figure is slightly down from the previous survey, carried out in 1982, this sense of inequality has generally been alleviated in all other countries except Sweden, according to the report.
The number of Japanese women who oppose the conventional notion that the husband should work and the wife should stay home marked a sharp increase of 33.6 percentage points to 57.3 percent, but this was still much lower than the ratios in other countries, including 93.2 percent in Sweden.
The data on child-rearing shows that Japan lags far behind. While 56.4 percent of Japanese women take maternity leave, only 0.4 percent of the men take paternity leave.
During the child-rearing period, a husband in Japan spends 48 minutes per day doing housework, far shorter than around three hours in Europe and the U.S.
The report attributes the slow progress in promoting gender equality in Japan to the fixed — sometimes biased — sense of the career divide between men and women, and urges that working conditions be made more flexible so that more women can work while they raise children.
As part of efforts to build a society based on gender equality, Japan needs more legislation or corporate policies to create a better working environment for women that will reduce their worries about balancing families and careers, the paper says.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.