Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's acknowledgement of the unleashed potential of women should herald a new beginning for female empowerment in Japan. Yet his proposals to encourage more women to remain in the workforce actually may do more to hurt their prospects by merely reinforcing existing prejudices toward female workers and the role of women in society in general. In fact, his policies could entrench prevailing notions that childcare is women's work.

During his visit to Washington late April, senior vice minister of the Cabinet Office Yasutoshi Nishimura delivered a speech outlining the power of Abenomics, and the move to push through with structural reform, including empowering women.

"Abenomics is womanomics," Nishimura said, adding that the government was fully aware of talented women being systematically underutilized in Japan. He then proceeded to outline the government's plan to open about 250,000 day care centers nationwide over the next few years.