Japan drastically lowers its goal for female managers in government and private sector


Staff Writer

The government has abandoned its aim of having women in 30 percent of management roles by 2020. On Friday it approved a new gender equality road map that slashes targets in some areas.

While the Cabinet Office insists the 30 percent figure remains its general aim, the drastic lowering of expectations acknowledges poor progress to date in areas such as government service.

Under the new five-year plan, endorsed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, the government will work toward more modest goals such as 7 percent for national public servants and 15 percent for local government officials and private companies.

It is the fourth set of gender equality targets to have been adopted, each lasting for a period of five years. The Cabinet Office adopted the 30 percent target in 2003.

As of 2015, the ratio of women in managerial positions at ministries and government offices stood at a mere 3.5 percent, while the figure for the private sector was 9.2 percent.

While the Cabinet Office remains committed to the 30 percent goal in principle, it said it is more important to nurture candidates who will be eligible to lead in the future, especially in fields with poor female representation at present.

The plan includes aiming to increase the proportion of women in junior management positions to 30 percent for national and local public servants and 25 percent for private companies.

The plan also spells out the scale of the challenge ahead: To boost women’s participation in the workplace, the nation needs to reform its male-centered work culture, represented by long working hours and a seniority system that works disadvantageously for women. Not only do women in Japan bear the burden of raising children, they are often also expected to take care of aging parents.

The plan sets a target of having less than 5 percent of the workforce working more than 60 hours a week by 2020. In 2014, about 13 percent of male employees and 2.8 percent of female hires exceeded the 60 hours mark.

It also urges male employees to take child care leave and participate more in homemaking, setting goals of raising the ratio of men who take the leave to 13 percent, up from 2.3 percent in the private sector and 3.1 percent among civil servants in fiscal 2014.

The government also set a goal of increasing the ratio of working women aged between 25 and 44 to 77 percent in 2020 from 70.8 percent in 2014.

Japan has long had one of the worst levels of gender equality in the developed world, ranking 101st out of 145 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap index in 2015.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Has Abe Shinzo played Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Obama for fools by pretending to be this huge champion of women through womenomics only to show his true colors now?

    These Americans had gushed all over our wonderful LDP friends for such enlightened views.

    • skillet

      What Japan does with its policies is not the business of Caroline Kennedy or Michelle Obama. If foreign leaders are going to talk about civil rights, I would love to see Vladimir Putin speak out against American title 9 kangerooo courts on college campus that are creating a hostile environment for falsely accused men. I also wish they would do things like change the book store display windows where it seems like every leading book on display is about how evil men are(especially if they are white/hetero.)

      Whether it is Duke La Cross or UVA, I would say the greater problem is the USA who has no lessons to give to anybody.

  • tisho

    The way of thinking and approaching this problem is utterly ridiculous on so many levels. Japan needs young experts in the government, and they need to get rid of these old retards with backward mentality.

  • Steve Jackman

    BOJ’s unachievable inflation targets, Abe’s pie in the sky goal of a 20% increase in GDP, Japanese corporate earnings which fall dramatically short of company projections, reversal of design for the Tokyo Olympics stadium and now this. There seems to be a definite credibility issue going on here.

  • Richard Solomon

    Not surprising that Abe has lowered goals for the advancement of women into executive positions. While the words have sounded good, there has been little if any real follow through with policy making that might accelerate the advancement of women in business.

    Eg, no changes in tax incentives which makes it better for married, young mothers to stay home rather than work.

    Abe could reduce taxes for those corporations which hire/promote significantly more women into junior and senior exec positions. Eg, lower tax rates by 5% any year that a corporation hires/promotes 5% more women.

    Abe could lead the way by promoting more women into his Cabinet. He could order the ministries in his government to do likewise. He’d have to face a lot of criticism from his male colleagues and supporters if he did such things. Is he willing to take the heat?!?

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    Not a surprise, after all Abe is ‘special advisor’ to Nippon Kaigi, and their agenda is to go in the opposite direction and remove the vote for women, and legally make them fathers or husbands property again. Shinzo has touted the 30% goal all around the world, and milked it dry, so now he can get back to his real right-wing agenda.

  • Jomann

    Japanese are proud of their country. 98% of the people living there are Japanese. They accept very few outsiders as citizens and only those who have a disability or who are aging are eligible to receive welfare of any kind. People from western countries would say they are xenophobic, racists, sexist, misogynistic. No, they just know how the world really works.

    Westerners have no place telling the Japanese how they should run their country or their life. It is their place, people there can make a difference if they wish, it is not the west’s duty to police the world or tell people how they should act or think.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      I have Japanese citizenship now, a Japanese wife, and two Japanese kids, so for their sake, I can say what I want, and criticize the governments prehistoric approach to gender equality any time I like!

    • Toolonggone

      >People from western countries would say they are xenophobic, racists, sexist, misogynistic.

      That’s common view among people across nationality–not limited to west. Contrary to your bias, Japanese in younger generations are well aware of the problem.

      • Jomann

        Why would you call it a problem?

      • Toolonggone

        Better do your research on Japanese society. It’s been affecting so many Japanese people for years.

      • Toolonggone

        Better do your research on Japanese society. It’s been affecting so many Japanese people for years.

  • Anil Samal

    Give more license to Kyabakura, Massage center, Girls bar and Fuuzoku.
    Japanese women job rate will increase.
    This is the best Japanese government can do. All the best.

    • The Disturbed One

      Your comment is disgraceful.

      • Anil Samal

        If you are a non Japanese what you say is correct.
        The message is disgraceful.

        If you are a Japanese, improve your society so that women can live a gracefully. Not just slave of men.
        Try to stop single mother, child porn, and all other openly available sex business.

  • Toolonggone

    Not surprising at all. The Japanese government really likes to make pit-in-the-sky policy to display a 100-million-ft-tall giant chocolate cake house on the cotton-candy-shaped cloud. It only exists in their narcissistic mindset. S.I.T.Y.S.