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The Abe administration’s goal of boosting the ratio of female managers at government organizations and companies to 30 percent by 2020 has prompted some leading firms to make plans for promoting more women to senior positions. Such targets may go some ways to promoting the nation’s underutilized female workers to key jobs in both the public and private sectors. But for the move to become sustained and take root, the targets need to be backed up by persistent efforts to change the male-dominated cultures and mindset at many companies, so that the number of female managers will rise not as the result of policy targets but on the basis of ability.

Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) has urged its roughly 1,300 member firms to create plans to increase female managers. So far, 47 companies have come up with such plans, including 27 that have set specific numerical targets. Three of them — Shiseido Co., Seven & I Holdings Co. and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. — say women will account for at least 30 percent of their management ranks by 2020. Toyota Motor Corp. says it will triple the number of its roughly 100 female managers, while Hitachi Ltd. is seeking to increase the number of women in its management ranks 2.5-fold to 1,000. In the financial industry, meanwhile, Nomura Trust & Banking Co. got its first female president this year.

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