• The Associated Press

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Japan’s glass ceiling remains low for women, with relatively few in leadership roles such as management or politics compared with other advanced countries, according to a government report Tuesday.

Only about 10 percent of female workers hold managerial positions, compared with about 43 percent in the U.S. and about 37 percent in Germany and Australia, according to latest figures compiled by the International Labor Organization.

The figures are cited in an annual report on gender equality compiled by the Cabinet Office.

Japan ranks 11th out of the 12 countries surveyed, lagging far behind countries in the West and other Asian nations such as Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Japan also ranks near the bottom for its proportion of female lawmakers, with only 9.4 percent in 2006, compared with 16.2 percent in the U.S. and 47.3 percent in Sweden.

Despite recent changes in attitudes and working styles of the young, the conventional idea that husbands should work while wives stay home to raise their children persists more strongly in Japan compared with other countries, the report on gender equality says.

“It is necessary to create an environment where both men and women can participate by balancing their career and family life,” the report says.

Many working mothers give up their career or take on part-time jobs after giving birth due to limited public day care, long working hours and lack of support from their husbands and companies. Others who want to pursue careers remain single or without children.

In 2006, about 52 percent of female workers held part-time or contract jobs, compared with about 18 percent among male workers, the report says.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for a better working environment for women, especially for working mothers, adopting plans to improve child care and encouraging companies to provide more support to working couples.

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