It’s been 30 years since the law mandating equal employment opportunities for men and women, aimed at eliminating gender-based discrimination in the recruitment, promotion and other treatment of workers, was introduced. Female labor participation in Japan has since steadily increased, and some of the obsolete stereotypes, practices and outright discrimination against women in the workplace have either disappeared or been reduced. However, new legislation that took full effect on the very anniversary of the 1986 law highlights the continuing challenges that confront working women.

The equal employment opportunity law, enacted in 1985 and taking effect on April 1 the following year, initially lacked teeth — only requiring companies to make efforts against discriminatory treatment in the recruitment, hiring, assignment and promotion of workers for gender-based reasons. A 1999 amendment legally banned such discrimination, while subsequent revisions have also prohibited indirect forms of discrimination in promotion as well as unfair treatment for reasons involving marriage, pregnancy and childbirth.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.