• Kyodo

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Only around half of the 47 prefectures have set numerical targets for promoting female employees and most fall below Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of raising the proportion of women in leadership positions to 30 percent by 2020, according to a survey released Monday.

All 47 governors replied to the Kyodo News survey in October and November. Twenty-four said their prefectural governments had set numerical targets, while in Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said the capital would soon launch a goal of 20 percent.

The other 22 governors said their prefectural governments were still considering the matter.

As of April 2013, women in prefectural governments occupied an average of 6.8 percent of managerial positions equal to or above section chief. The corresponding figure in central government ministries and agencies stood at 3 percent as of October 2013.

“The (central) government is suggesting to municipalities and companies a goal that it cannot achieve itself. It should create a realistic target,” Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa said in his response to the survey.

Promoting women in the workplace has been one component of the prime minister’s economic reform policies. Abe has said his goal is to create a society in which “every woman shines.”

On top of vowing to raise the ratio of women in leadership positions in government, Abe has promised to beef up state support for child care so that more women can return to work after giving birth. Two-thirds of Japanese women quit their jobs after giving birth, citing difficulties balancing family and work.

However, the bill that would have obliged large companies and city halls to set numerical targets for senior female managers was scrapped when Abe dissolved the Lower House last Friday ahead of a snap election set for Dec. 14.

In the survey, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it plans to set a target for women in managerial positions of 20 percent by 2020. But some provided much lower targets, such as Fukushima Prefecture at 7 percent. Others said they had only set short-term targets.

As of April 2013, Cabinet office data showed the proportion of women in managerial positions ranged from 15.2 percent in Tokyo to 2.1 percent in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Abe’s home turf.

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