The urgent need to improve the work style of Japanese people has been recognized and debated for some time. Behind the need are the rapidly declining working-age population (people age 15 to 64) and the nation’s persistently low productivity, just to name two contributing factors. These issues are complicated and interrelated, and no single solution will resolve them all.

The government has introduced several policy steps, such as capping overtime to reduce the chronically long work hours of company employees, so that more people such as the elderly, people with disabilities and women with small children can flexibly take part in the labor market. Initiatives by the Abe administration to empower women have been underway for some time, while, in an effort to make executive boards at Japanese firms more diverse, inclusive and transparent, corporate governance codes and women’s empowerment regulations call for greater diversity.

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