The Swiss-based nonprofit World Economic Forum recently released its Gender Gap Report for 2013, in which Japan ranked 105 out of 136 countries — a plunge of 25 places from its ranking when the report was inaugurated in 2006. South Korea rates even worse, coming in at 111 in 2013, down from 92nd place in 2006.

With both Japan and Korea being in the bottom third of countries surveyed, it would seem their employment systems aren't working very well for women by any measure, as both feature a wide gender-based wage gap, glass ceilings, marginalization in the workforce and low fertility — the latter a key factor in the rapid aging of both societies.

The failure to support working women is also saddling both countries with gathering fiscal problems by depressing tax revenues, pension and medical-insurance contributions and limiting economic growth.