Though hard to detect at a distance, there are cracks in the glass ceiling of Japan Inc.

Late last month, about 60 female executives of companies and organizations gathered in Tokyo's Roppongi Hills to launch the Japan chapter of the global group Women Corporate Directors. The group is unusual because its members are mainly directors and board members of public or large privately held companies.

"We created the Japan chapter of the WCD to increase the value of female board members in Japan," said cochair Izumi Kobayashi, who is CEO and executive vice president of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.