As an ambitious graduate from an elite university, Kyoko Fukushima was aiming for the top when she got a job at one of Japan’s big trading houses — often working late into the night alongside her male colleagues. Ten years and two kids later, she found her responsibilities downgraded to paper shuffling, so she resigned.

Now there’s growing pressure on Japan’s corporations to stop pushing working mothers like her to the sidelines and instead help them develop their careers. A new law that came into effect April 1 lays bare just how hard a task lies ahead. It requires large employers to publish statistics on their numbers of female employees and managers, along with plans for promoting them, complete with targets and time frames.

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