Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has commended Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his commitment to empower women, taking note of the cultural barriers in Japan that stand in the way of female advancement.

Abe held a talk with Clinton on stage at an event on women's issues hosted Wednesday by the Clinton Foundation. "If women play active roles, Japan can grow further," he said.

He cited the need for "changing the way people work in society," saying that women can't work while raising children in "a culture where people working till late are held in high regard."