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Several weeks ago the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, hung around briefly after the IMF finished up its annual meeting — which happened to be in Tokyo this year — and appeared on a special hourlong edition of NHK’s in-depth news show “Closeup Gendai.” The topic was working women as a factor in Japan’s economic recovery. Lagarde said more women in the workforce would “create more consumption” and stimulate demand, thus growing the economy. This proposal was so elementary that it seemed a waste to have the leader of one of the world’s biggest financial organs deliver it, but Lagarde’s purpose for being on the program was probably more symbolic than anything else.

At the meeting, the IMF presented a paper on Japan’s neglected female workers, and Lagarde said she has communicated with many Japanese women who “express frustration” about the “hurdles” that make it difficult for them to be taken seriously as management material.

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