A record high 63 percent of Japanese women held jobs in September, up two percentage points from a year before, according to a survey by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. For women aged 15 to 64, that meant an increase of 6.2 percentage points from 2003.

Although the result appears to be good news, the details show that little has changed. Japan's women are still relegated to part-time or temporary positions.

The percentage increased mainly because more companies hired single working women, especially those in their 30s. Over the last decade, the employment rate for women aged 30 to 34 rose 11.5 percentage points; for those aged 35 to 39, it rose 9.2 points. That rate increased not because of better working options but because women are marrying late and having fewer children. The choice — work or children — has not changed, but women are choosing work over children more often. They should be able to choose either one or both.