Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's sudden call at the end of last month for closing of all schools nationwide to contain the COVID-19 outbreak has brought great confusion to officials, teachers and parents of schoolchildren. But media reports, especially TV news coverage, appeared to give an impression that only women are in trouble due to the school shutdowns. Isn't that strange?

The media coverage of the issue seemed to be stuck with a biased view that mothers have to take care of children who cannot go to school and that they, therefore, have to stay away from work. A woman working for a media company said that the upper echelons of the news program production think it was a problem that only affected women.

Japan's media industry is as devoid of diversity as the government. Key Tokyo-based TV stations effectively have no women supervising the actual scenes of reporting and program production, according to the Women's Conference of Commercial Broadcasting. Women account for only slightly less than 20 percent of all the employees of these broadcasters. The ratio falls down to about 9 percent as far as employees engaged in news reporting are concerned. In short, only men decide what is newsworthy and what should be reported. This situation breeds the risk of homogeneity.