• Kyodo

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Women held just 5.9% of director-level jobs in the government’s offices in Tokyo in fiscal 2020, underscoring the country’s slow progress in closing the gender gap in the workplace.

The Cabinet Office released data Thursday showing the share of such positions held by female public servants rose just 0.6 percentage points from the previous year, falling short of the government’s target of 7%.

Seven of the 18 ministries and agencies the data covers failed to reach the target. The worst performer was the National Public Safety Commission with 1.4%, followed by the Defense Ministry at 1.8% and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism at 2.1%.

Other poor performers were the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications with 3.7%, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries with 4.1%, the Board of Audit with 5.9% and the Finance Ministry with 6.3%.

The data show how deeply entrenched traditional gender roles are in Japan and the hurdles that remain toward narrowing the gender gap. The country is 120th in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap rankings, by far the worst among the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

The top performers in fiscal 2020 that ended in March were the National Personnel Authority with 13.1%, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology with 11.8% and the Cabinet Office with 11.5%.

The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, for its part, adopted a new basic plan for gender equality in December, including a target for women to hold 10% of director-level jobs in the government’s Tokyo offices by the end of fiscal 2025.

The government plans to hold further discussions this year on concrete steps to increase the share of leadership roles held by women, including adopting quotas.

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