At first glance, things seem to be getting better for Japanese women.

In an economy that's historically lagged other developed nations when it comes to female workforce participation, a record 71 percent are now employed, an 11 point leap over a decade ago.

The government boasts one of the most generous parental leave laws in the world and recently created a "limited full-time worker" category aimed primarily at mothers looking to balance job and family. And one of the most important needs for working families — child day care — is slowly being expanded.