• Kyodo

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The number of female researchers at private companies and other institutions in Japan reached its highest level ever last year, government data showed, although it remained low by international standards.

As of March 2016, the number stood at 138,420, up 2,214 from a year earlier and accounting for 15.3 percent of the total number of researchers, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

A notable increase was seen in the number of women involved with natural science research at private firms, the ministry said.

Still, the ratio of female researchers to the total, up from 14.7 percent from the year before, pales in comparison with Russia’s 40.3 percent, Britain’s 37.4 percent, Italy’s 36.0 percent and the United States’ 34.3 percent, according to comparable data between 2013 and 2015 provided by ministry.

Those at educational institutions such as universities made up the largest group, at 84,622, followed by those at private firms at 46,282. Nonprofit organizations and public institutions had 7,516 female researchers.