• Kyodo

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With the government’s drive to create more flexible and effective working environments, investment companies have been setting up funds to invest in companies focusing on job market reforms, including the promotion of women in the workplace.

Fund managers believe that business performance will improve at companies dedicated to labor reforms in response to changes in society, and therefore their stock prices will rise.

The success of such funds could give a boost to government initiatives advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as part of his economic policies that are aimed at balancing people’s lifestyles and ways of working.

Last October, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Asset Management Co. set up one such investment fund, called “Minna no Chikara” (“power of everyone”), to solicit investors through online brokers.

Managers at the firm invest in shares from various companies, including some Nadeshiko stocks, which are companies designated by the economy ministry and the Tokyo Stock Exchange as providing sufficient opportunities for women.

The fund also invests in companies that actively promote better employee health and diversify their workforce by hiring more foreign staff and people with disabilities.

Managers use their own criteria to determine the stability and growth potential of the companies.

“We invest in corporations that can respond to social concerns. We also seek long-term investment gains,” a manager of the fund said. “We want investors to maintain their holdings for a long time.”

Meiji Yasuda Asset Management Co. set up a similar fund in July 2015, soliciting investors through three online brokers.

At present, the fund invests in about 70 companies that its managers have determined are financially healthy, in addition to some of the Nadeshiko stocks.

Analysts for the fund visit companies and ask how they promote or provide good working environments for women.

Daiwa Asset Management Co.’s “Tsubaki” fund debuted in March 2015, which was touted as a “fund to help women’s success.”

As of this April, the fund has been sold through 23 regional and credit banks. It invests in about 80 companies recognized as providing a good environment for women to continue working or companies selling products and services targeted mostly at female consumers.

The fund has far outperformed the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Topix index, a manager at the firm said.

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