The government adopted Wednesday a set of policies aimed toward promoting the empowerment of women in business and politics and helping single mothers secure child support from their former husbands.
The policies stated that accelerating efforts to further increase the number of women in the boardroom and political arena is a “matter of urgency” as female presence in those areas has remained persistently low.
Last year, Japan ranked 121st among 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender-gap rankings, slipping from 110th the previous year and in last place among major advanced economies.
Women held only 15 percent of senior and leadership positions in business, and the proportion of female lawmakers stood at 10 percent in the Lower House and 23 percent in the Upper House.
The government called for spreading awareness among business bodies about the need to promote female participation and investigating the reasons behind their low representation.
To identify obstacles to women entering politics, the government will also conduct a survey on harassment targeting female candidates and politicians.
As evasion of child support payments by divorced fathers frequently causes single mothers and their children to fall into poverty, the government will review other countries’ systems and consider changing the law to better enforce payments in Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the meeting where the policies were adopted that the government would “start studying legal amendments to support women in difficult situations.”
A fiscal 2016 survey by the welfare ministry showed only 24.3 percent of single-mother households in the nation received child support from fathers after divorce. Women in Japan also tend to earn much less than men, with many of them working as contract employees.
In 2018, men in the nation earned ¥5.45 million ($51,000) on average — nearly twice as much as women, who made ¥2.93 million in the year.
The latest policies also include increased efforts to eradicate all forms of violence against women.
Based on a separate policy compiled last month to enhance measures against sex crimes and sexual violence, the government will focus in the next three years on providing better support for victims and promoting education and awareness to prevent such crimes and violence.
As the novel coronavirus has forced people to spend more time at home, leading to increased cases of domestic violence, the government will provide a 24-hour consultation service over the phone and by email.