Among the 149 countries covered in the latest world gender gap index, Japan’s position improved slightly from 114th a year ago to 110th. Still, Japan remains the lowest among the Group of Seven nations and 16th among the Group of 20 countries — ahead of only South Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

According to Sophia University professor Mari Miura, Japan’s poor standing in women’s participation in politics and the economy — 125th and 117th, respectively — drags down the nation’s overall showing. While Japan is not so bad in education (65th) and health (41st), it won’t be able to climb the ladder unless the gender gap in politics and the economy is resolved. Despite its rich industrialized economy, Japan has yet to achieve much progress in equality between men and women. As a cosmetics firm’s ad once said, Japan is an “underdeveloped” country in terms of gender equality.

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